Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Adamson v. Foulke Management Corp.

April 6, 2009

JOHN J. ADAMSON, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
FOULKE MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

[relates to Docket Item #s 7 & 8]

HON. JEROME B. SIMANDLE

OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on motions to dismiss submitted by Defendants Foulke Management Corporation and Triad Financial Corporation [Docket Items 7 and 8].*fn1 The pivotal issue presented is whether Plaintiff John Adamson ("Plaintiff"), a deaf man, entered into a legally binding and enforceable arbitration agreement with both Defendants Foulke Management Corporation ("Defendant Foulk") and Triad Financial Corporation ("Defendant Triad") surrounding his purchase of a motor vehicle through an automotive dealership, such that his claims against them must be dismissed. Also before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss based on a release that Plaintiff allegedly signed giving up "any and all claims and rights" against Defendants. Finally, Defendant Triad argues under Rule 12(b)(6) that even if the other two arguments do not succeed, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim against Triad. The Court, as will be discussed, finds that there is a valid arbitration agreement, but will delay compelling arbitration to allow all parties to develop the record as to the costs of arbitration, specifically, whether the costs of arbitration to Plaintiff will be prohibitively expensive rendering the arbitration agreement ultimately unenforceable.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts and Allegations

As alleged, Plaintiff Adamson presents a sympathetic scenario. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Foulke, doing business as Cherry Hill Dodge car dealership, and Defendants Triad and DaimlerChrysler, principal businesses offering automobile financing through their agent Cherry Hill Dodge, took advantage of his disability, refused to provide him with a sign language interpreter, and engaged in various other misconduct while selling Plaintiff a used 2007 Dodge Caravan in exchange for his Buick. This exchange left Plaintiff without the 2007 Dodge Caravan, but also without title to the Buick. He admits, however, that during this process he signed two separate arbitration agreements at Cherry Hill Dodge, which purport to waive Plaintiff's right to a jury trial or any court action, and instead require that he (or Defendants) submit to arbitration at Defendants' (or his own) request. The substance of agreements and the circumstances surrounding their signing are essential to the present motion.

The Complaint alleges the following. On February 9, 2008, Plaintiff, along with his young son, who is also deaf, drove from their Philadelphia, Pennsylvania home to Cherry Hill Dodge in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in response to a television commercial in which Cherry Hill Dodge promised a credit of $8,000 for an automobile trade-in and favorable credit terms "regardless of credit history" for the purchase of a new 2008 Dodge Caravan. (Compl. ¶¶ 16-18.) At the dealership, Cherry Hill Dodge sales representative Robert B. Hill ("Hill") met with Plaintiff and refused his request for a sign language interpreter. (Id. ¶¶ 20-24.) Hill ignored Plaintiff's explanation that he was deaf, that he needed an interpreter in order to discuss and understand all communications in their dealing, and that he could not "read lips." (Id. ¶¶ 20, 22, 24.) Instead, Hill assured Plaintiff than an interpreter was not needed, that they could communicate in writing, and so, "We will be fine." (Id. ¶¶ 21, 23.) Plaintiff then expressed his interest in purchasing a new 2008 Dodge Caravan. (Id. ¶ 26.)

During the course of their exchange, Hill convinced Plaintiff to purchase instead a used 2007 Dodge Caravan in exchange for his Buick. (Id. ¶¶ 27-40.) Plaintiff alleges that Hill and John Costas ("Costas"), Cherry Hill Dodge's financial manager, intentionally misled him by quoting him a price well above the Blue Book value of the van, by stating that Plaintiff's credit application had been approved, by giving him only $1,000 credit for trading in his Buick, and by suggesting that New Jersey law requires a higher interest rate for deaf people. (Id. ¶¶ 30-36.) Plaintiff again asked for a sign language interpreter to better understand the terms of the transaction, and Hill and Costas told him he could return home with the van and come back with an interpreter, but Plaintiff explained it was their obligation, not his, to provide an interpreter. (Id. ¶ 36.) He then proceeded to sign various documents to purchase and finance the used 2007 Dodge Caravan and signed over title to the Buick. (Compl. ¶¶ 37-38; Compl. Ex. B.)

Amongst that paperwork were two arbitration agreements; one is part of a Retail Installment Contract ("RIC") and the other is a separate arbitration agreement. (Compl. Ex. B.) Both are dated February 9, 2008. (Id.) The RIC agreement contains this language in capital letters, right above the buyer's signature line:

NOTICE TO RETAIL BUYER

DO NOT SIGN THIS CONTRACT IN BLANK. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A COPY OF THE CONTRACT AT THE TIME YOU SIGN. KEEP IT TO PROTECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS.

BUYER ACKNOWLEDGES RECEIPT OF A TRUE AND COMPLETELY FILLED IN COPY OF THIS RETAIL INSTALLMENT CONTRACT.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU THOROUGHLY READ THE CONTRACT BEFORE YOU SIGN IT, INCLUDING THE IMPORTANT ARBITRATION DISCLOSURES AND PRIVACY POLICY ON THE BACK OF THIS CONTRACT. (Id.) On the back, in small print and in the bottom right corner at paragraph 21, are the "IMPORTANT ARBITRATION DISCLOSURES." (Id.) They read, in most relevant part:

ARBITRATION: The following Arbitration provisions significantly affect your rights in any dispute with us. Please read the following disclosures and the arbitration provision that follows carefully before you sign the contract.

1. If either you or we choose, any dispute between you and us will be decided by arbitration.

2. If such dispute is arbitrated, you and we will give up the right to a trial by a court or a jury trial.

3. You agree to give up any right you may have to bring a class-action lawsuit or class arbitration, or to participate in either as claimant, and you agree to give up any right you may have to consolidate your arbitration with the arbitration of others.

4. The information that can be obtained in discovery from each other or from third persons in arbitration is generally ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.