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Marciano v. DCH Auto Group

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 27, 2017


          Lucia Marciano Larchmont, NY Pro Se Plaintiff

          Kathleen B. Einhorn, Esq. Dena Calo, Esq. Genova, Burns & Giantomasi & Webster Newark, N.J. Counsel for Defendants

          OPINION & ORDER

          KENNETH M. KARAS, District Judge

         Pro se Plaintiff Lucia Marciano (“Plaintiff”) commenced this Action in 2011 against DCH Auto Group (“DCH”), and later amended the Complaint to add Brian Lam (“Lam”), and Bernard Fee (“Fee, ” and collectively, “Defendants”) as Defendants. Plaintiff alleged three claims of workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., (see Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 114-17 (Dkt. No. 24)), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., (see Id. ¶¶ 118-22), and New York's Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq., (see Id. ¶¶ 123-28). In July 2013, Defendants brought a Motion To Compel Arbitration, (Dkt. No. 35), arguing that Plaintiff was contractually bound to arbitrate the claims Plaintiff asserted in federal court. On March 31, 2014, the Court issued an Opinion & Order granting Defendants' Motion To Compel Arbitration. (Dkt. No. 56.) The Court stayed this Action pending the resolution of the arbitral proceedings. On November 3, 2016, Arbitrator Sheila S. Cole (“Arbitrator Cole”) issued a decision (the “Arbitration Decision”) dismissing Plaintiff's demand for arbitration with prejudice. (See Disposition of Motion To Dismiss Claimant's Amended Demand for Arbitration (“Arbitration Decision”) (Dkt. No. 84).)[1]Defendants have filed a Motion To Confirm the Arbitration Decision, (Dkt. No. 86), and Plaintiff has filed a Motion To Vacate, (Dkt. No. 90). For the reasons to follow, Defendants' Motion is granted, and Plaintiff's Motion is denied.

         I. Background

         The focus of this Court's Opinion is on whether to confirm or vacate the Arbitration Decision, and therefore, only the facts and background necessary to decide that issue are recounted below.

         A. Factual Background

         On April 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Demand for Arbitration with the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) against DCH. (Arbitration Decision 3.) When Plaintiff filed her Notice of Demand, she was represented by counsel. (Id. at 3-4.) DCH filed an answering statement in August 2014. (Id. at 3.) On September 18, 2014, Plaintiff's counsel informed the AAA that he was no longer representing Plaintiff. (Id. at 3-4.) On October 20, 2014, and December 18, 2014, Plaintiff was granted extensions of time to obtain new counsel. (Id. at 4.) The AAA informed Plaintiff that no further extensions would be granted. (Id.)

         On February 19, 2015, the arbitration was assigned to Arbitrator Cole. (Id.) Plaintiff again sought to postpone the case until she could acquire new counsel. On March 2, 2015, Arbitrator Cole agreed to stay the proceeding for 60 days, but informed Plaintiff that no further such requests would be granted. (Id.) On May 5, 2015, the AAA advised the Parties that the 60 days had expired and requested that the Parties participate in a case management conference. (Id.) Arbitrator Cole held a scheduling conference on June 17, 2015, and on June 19, 2015 the Parties executed an order setting deadlines for certain discovery obligations. (Id. at 5.) At the time the June 17, 2015 scheduling conference was held, Plaintiff was again represented by her former counsel. (Id.)

         On July 1, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion To Amend her Demand for Arbitration to include Lam and Fee as respondents. (Id.) Arbitrator Cole granted Plaintiff's motion. (Id.)

         On October 27, 2015, the Parties executed an amended scheduling order. (Id.) Pursuant to the amended schedule, the Parties were required to provide responses to discovery requests by November 30, 2015. (Id.) On December 2, 2015, Defendants provided responses to Plaintiff's interrogatory requests and produced 616 documents to Plaintiff. (Id.) On December 18, 2015, Defendants notified Plaintiff that she failed to comply with her obligation to provide to Defendants certain documents and information, including an executed HIPPA authorization form, and requested that Plaintiff remedy these deficiencies by January 11, 2016. (Id.)

         On February 2, 2016, Plaintiff's counsel again withdrew. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff thereafter sought to stay the arbitration while she attempted to retain new counsel. (Id.) On March 23, 2016, the AAA placed the arbitration in abeyance until May 31, 2016. (Id.) On May 31, 2016, Plaintiff requested an additional 60-day extension. Arbitrator Cole denied this request on June 17, 2016. (Id.)

         On June 21, 2016, Defendants again informed Plaintiff that she had not yet complied with her discovery obligations. (Id.) Defendants requested that Plaintiff remedy the deficiencies by July 5, 2016. Plaintiff notified Defendants that she could not respond by that deadline, but would respond as soon as possible after July 19, 2016. (Id.)

         On July 19, 2016, Arbitrator Cole granted Defendants' request for leave to dismiss the arbitration. (Id.) Arbitrator Cole directed Defendants to file their motion by August 18, 2016. (Id.) Plaintiff was given until September 19, 2016 to respond. (Id.) On September 13, 2016, Plaintiff requested an extension of time. (Id.) Arbitrator Cole granted Plaintiff until October 3, 2016 to submit her opposition. (Id.) On that date, Plaintiff submitted her papers. (Id.) Arbitrator Cole issued the Arbitration Decision on November 3, 2016.

         Arbitrator Cole, after recounting much of this procedural history and Plaintiff's numerous abeyance and extension requests, held:

On the entire record before me, Respondents' Motion to Dismiss Claimant's Amended Demand for Arbitration is granted.
Both before and after the arbitrator was appointed, Claimant requested and was granted numerous extensions of deadlines. In addition, because Claimant's lawyer twice withdrew as counsel in this matter, Claimant has requested and has been granted a number of temporary abeyances or extensions of time in which to retain new counsel. Claimant has not retained new counsel. Although she asserts that she is unable to afford counsel, Claimant has not indicated an intention to proceed without counsel. Claimant's position suggests no realistic expectation that she would not continue to seek additional extensions of time in which to retain new counsel, without success. Moreover, even after Respondents were granted leave to file a Motion to Dismiss, Claimant requested an extension of time in which to respond.
Respondents correctly point out that they are entitled to a just and efficient adjudication of this matter. The parties' dispute has been in arbitration approximately two and one-half years and has not proceeded beyond the discovery phase and Respondent[s] ha[ve] notified Claimant that her responses to discovery requests are deficient. Although Claimant asserts that she has not provided all that Respondents have asked for in discovery because they are not entitled to receive some of the requested materials, Claimant failed to seek timely relief. Similarly, Claimant asserts that Respondents have failed to meet some of its obligations, but Claimant failed to make these assertions prior to Respondents' seeking leave to move for dismissal of the amended demand for arbitration. Here too, Claimant failed to seek timely relief for any of Respondents' alleged deficiencies.
Respondents' assertion that they have expended a great deal of time and money in defense of the claims against them is presumed and unrebutted. Additional delay would increase the resources Respondents ...

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