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Case 6:13-cv-00555-RBD-GJK Document 67 Filed 12/19/13 Page 1 of 5 PageID 919



UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

ORLANDO DIVISION



ROBERT CHARLES JUSTIN PORTER
and EVA ANDREA PORTER, on behalf
of themselves and all others similarly
situated,



v.

CHRYSLER GROUP LLC,




Defendant.

Plaintiffs,

Case No. 6:13-cv-555-Orl-37GJK



This cause is before the Court on the following:

ORDER

1.

Defendant Chrysler Group LLC’s Motion [to] Compel Arbitration and

Dismiss or Stay Case and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (Doc. 48),

filed October 21, 2013;

2.

Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Defendant Chrysler Group LLC’s Motion to Compel

Arbitration and Dismiss or Stay Case (Doc. 51), filed November 7, 2013;

3.

Defendant Chrysler Group LLC’s Emergency Motion to Stay (Doc. 58), filed

November 15, 2013;

4.

Defendant Chrysler Group LLC’s Amended Reply Brief in Support of Its

Motion to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss or Stay Case (Doc. 61), filed

November 22, 2013; and

5.

Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Defendant Chrysler Group LLC’s Motion to Stay

(Doc. 64), filed December 2, 2013.

Upon consideration, the Court finds that Defendant’s motion to compel is due to be denied

Case 6:13-cv-00555-RBD-GJK Document 67 Filed 12/19/13 Page 2 of 5 PageID 920




in part.



BACKGROUND

This Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”) claim arose when Plaintiffs bought

an allegedly defective truck from a Chrysler dealership. (Doc. 40, ¶ 2.) The warranty

provided by Defendant did not mention arbitration as it related to Plaintiffs.1 (Doc. 8-1.)

However, at the time of purchase, Plaintiffs signed a separate “Arbitration Clause”

agreeing to arbitrate any claims against the dealership or related third parties.

(Doc. 48-1.)

Defendant now moves to compel arbitration, arguing that it is a third-party

beneficiary of that agreement. (Doc. 48.) It also moves to stay this case pending

consideration of this motion. (Doc. 58.) Plaintiffs opposed both motions. (Docs. 51, 64.)

Defendant replied in support of its motion to compel. (Doc. 60.) This matter is ripe for the

Court’s adjudication.

STANDARDS

The Federal Arbitration Act provides that arbitration agreements are presumed to

be valid and enforceable. 9 U.S.C. § 2. However, Congress may limit the use of such

agreements in particular statutes. See Shearson/Am. Express, Inc. v. McMahon, 482 U.S.

220, 226 (1987). It did so in the MMWA, which requires disclosure of information

regarding “any informal dispute settlement procedure” in the warranty itself. 15 U.S.C.

§ 2302(a)(8). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has accordingly held that

the “failure to disclose in the warranty a term or clause requiring the [plaintiffs] to utilize



1 The warranty does mention arbitration as it relates to purchasers in states other
than Florida. (Doc. 8, p. 36.) However, this information is inapplicable to the instant
Plaintiffs. (See Doc. 2, ¶ 2 (noting that Plaintiffs bought their truck and reside in Florida).)



2

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an informal dispute resolution mechanism runs afoul of the disclosure requirements of the



Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.” Cunningham v. Fleetwood Homes of Ga., Inc., 253 F.3d

611, 624 (11th Cir. 2001). Thus, in an MMWA case, a third-party beneficiary cannot

enforce an arbitration agreement if the terms of the agreement are not disclosed within

the warranty. See id. (affirming the district court’s denial of a third-party manufacturer’s

motion to compel because the dealer’s arbitration agreement was separate from the

warranty).

DISCUSSION

The Court is quite troubled by Defendant’s utter failure to cite to Cunningham,

which plainly controls the disposition of this motion.2 Defendant belatedly—and

improperly—attempted to distinguish Cunningham in its motion for leave to file a reply, in

which it pointed to Davis v. Southern Energy Homes, Inc., 305 F.3d 1268 (11th Cir.

2002).3 (Doc. 52.) However, Davis does nothing to recede from Cunningham, so this

argument is unavailing.

Cunningham explicitly declined to address “whether warrantors may include

binding arbitration provisions in the warranty itself.” 253 F.3d at 623–24. However, Davis

was presented with that precise question and answered it in the affirmative. 305 F.3d at

1272 (“[W]e conclude that the MMWA permits the enforcement of valid binding arbitration

agreements within written warranties.” (emphasis added)). Therefore, Davis is inapposite



2 Because this motion turns on the application of Cunningham, the Court need not

address Plaintiffs’ waiver and estoppel arguments. (See Doc. 51, pp. 8–20.)

3 Plaintiff also cites Patriot Manufacturing, Inc. v. Dixon, 399 F. Supp. 2d 1298,
1303 (S.D. Ala. 2005), for the proposition that Cunningham is no longer good law in the
Eleventh Circuit. (Doc. 52.) However, this Court must disagree in light of the fact that
Davis expressly distinguished Cunningham, leaving its holding intact. Davis, 305 F.3d at
1272 n.1.



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here, where the arbitration agreement was separate from and not referenced in the



warranty; Cunningham thus controls.

Because the arbitration agreement was not contained within the warranty, it “runs

afoul of the disclosure requirements” of the MMWA and cannot be enforced here. See

Cunningham, 253 F.3d at 624. Defendant’s motion to compel the MMWA claim is due to

be denied. As such, Defendant’s motion to stay the case pending disposition of the motion

to compel is also due to be denied.

The Court notes that this ruling is made solely on the basis of the MMWA claim.

The Court makes no findings with regard to the arbitrability of Plaintiffs’ state law breach

of warranty claims in the absence of arbitration of the MMWA claim, as this issue was not

fully briefed by the parties. The part of the motion seeking to compel arbitration of those

claims is therefore due to be taken under advisement pending further briefing.

CONCLUSION

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED:

1.

Defendant Chrysler Group LLC’s Motion [to] Compel Arbitration and

Dismiss or Stay Case and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (Doc. 48) is

DENIED IN PART AND TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT IN PART.

a.

The part of the motion seeking to compel arbitration of the MMWA

claim is DENIED.

b.

The part of the motion seeking to compel arbitration of the state law

breach of warranty claims is TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT.

c.

On or before Monday, January 6, 2014, Defendant is DIRECTED to

file a supplemental brief addressing the issue of whether the state



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law claims should be arbitrated, in light of the denial of the motion to

compel arbitration of the MMWA claim.

d.

On or before Thursday, January 23, 2014, Plaintiffs are DIRECTED

to respond to Defendant’s supplemental brief.

2.

Defendant Chrysler Group LLC’s Emergency Motion to Stay (Doc. 58) is

DENIED.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers in Orlando, Florida, on December 19, 2013.












Copies:

Counsel of Record





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