Fifth Circuit Finds Waiver of Arbitration Where Motion to Dismiss Argued Merits, Omitted Mention of Arbitration, and Created Prejudice
A consumer (Forby) filed a proposed class action in Illinois state court alleging that One Technologies, L.P. (One Tech) failed to adequately disclose that consumers who accessed their “free” online credit score on the company’s website would be enrolled in a credit monitoring program and be charged a monthly fee. The case was removed and then transferred to the Northern District of Texas. One Tech filed a motion to dismiss in the Texas district court, seeking dismissal of all of Forby’s claims but omitting any mention of arbitration. After the district court partially denied One Tech’s motion to dismiss, Forby served requests for production, which prompted One Tech to file motions to compel arbitration and to stay discovery. After the court granted these motions, Forby appealed to the Fifth Circuit, arguing that the court erred in finding that One Tech did not waive its right to arbitration. The Fifth Circuit agreed with Forby and reversed the district court’s order compelling arbitration, finding that One Tech substantially invoked the judicial process by seeking a full dismissal on the merits, and caused prejudice to Forby by waiting thirteen months before moving to compel arbitration and by forcing Forby to re-litigate in arbitration the matters already decided by the district court in her favor. The court reasoned: “[a] party does not get to learn that the district court is not receptive to its arguments and then be allowed a second bite at the apple through arbitration.” Forby v. One Technologies, L.P., Case No. 17-10883 (5th Cir. Nov. 28, 2018).