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.

Galloway v. Priority Imports Richmond, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

December 12, 2019

RENEE GALLOWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
PRIORITY IMPORTS RICHMOND, LLC, d/b/a PRIORITY TOYOTA RICHMOND, Defendant.

          OPINION

          John A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge

         In May, 2018, Renee Galloway bought a new car from Priority Toyota Richmond, LLC ("Priority"). A few weeks later, Priority forced her to come back to the dealership and choose between agreeing to higher interest rates or returning her car. Galloway has sued Priority for violating federal and state consumer protection laws. Priority has moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or alternatively, to compel arbitration. The Court heard argument on the motion on August 7, 2019. Following the hearing, the Court granted the motion in part and required the parties to attend mediation before the Better Business Bureau ("BBB"). The parties did not resolve the case at mediation.

         On December 3, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion to dismiss insofar as it asks the Court to compel arbitration. Galloway argues that the arbitration provision violates public policy and is unenforceable because it prohibits an arbitrator from awarding punitive damages. Galloway also asks the Court to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding Priority's intent for including the provision in its contracts. Because the Court concludes that the parties entered into a valid arbitration agreement that does not violate public policy, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss and declines to hold an evidentiary hearing.

         I. FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT

         Galloway purchased a new Toyota Camry from Priority in May, 2018. To complete the transaction, Galloway signed a retail installment sales contract ("Credit Contract") and a Buyer's Order form ("Buyer's Order"). The Credit Contract contained the financing details, and the Buyer's Order contained the arbitration agreement. The arbitration agreement provides:

You, as Buyer(s), and Dealer agree that if any Dispute ... arises, except as provided in this agreement, the Dispute will be resolved by binding arbitration by a single arbitrator under the applicable rules of the [Greater Hampton Roads BBB].[1] You agree that you will submit a Dispute for resolution in your individual capacity only and not as a named plaintiff or as a class member in any purported class or representative capacity. No. claim arising from a Dispute (known or unknown) may be adjudicated in or be the basis for compensation as a result of any class action proceeding. The parties understand that they are waiving their rights to a jury trial and class consideration of all claims and disputes between them not specifically exempted from arbitration in this Agreement. The enforceability of this arbitration agreement shall be governed by the Federal Arbitration Act. The arbitrator's decision shall be binding on all parties and may be entered in the highest local, state, or federal court, and before any administrative body. If You are signing a retail installment sale contract or lease in connection with this transaction that contains an arbitration agreement, that arbitration agreement supersedes this agreement in any case where the retail installment sale contract or lease is implicated.

         (Dk. No. 11-2, at 1). The Buyer's Order also provides:

All costs and expenses of the alternative dispute agency and the fees of the arbitrator shall be borne by the Dealer, except if you commence arbitration then you are financially responsible for the filing fee to the extent equal to the amount for filing a civil action for the claimed amount the Circuit Court of the county or city where the Dealer is located plus the incremental amount of the filing fee with the alternative dispute agency for any amount claimed in excess of the purchase price of the vehicle involved in the Dispute. Each party shall be responsible for its own attorney, expert and other fees and costs, unless awarded otherwise under applicable law. The arbitrator must make a written decision with separate findings of fact and conclusions of law. The arbitrator may not award punitive damages. The arbitrator shall apply the substantive law of the state of Virginia, and the arbitration shall take place in the county or city in which the Dealer is located.

(Id. at 2.) The Buyer's Order sold and assigned the Credit Contract to the Toyota Motor Credit Corporation ("Toyota"), which allowed Toyota to change Galloway's financing terms.

         Priority asked Galloway to return to the dealership a few weeks later to sign more paperwork. Galloway did not return to the dealership. In June, 2018, Priority again asked Galloway to return to the dealership to sign more paperwork. At the dealership, Priority told her that the original Credit Contract was invalid and that "she could not drive her Camry off the lot unless she agreed to a much higher interest rate and higher payments." (Dk. No. 11, at ¶¶ 58-59.) Galloway refused the terms of the new contract and returned the car.

         On March 26, 2019, Galloway filed this lawsuit. She alleges (1) a violation of the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1638(a); (2) a violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1691 (d); (3) fraud; (4) a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act ("VCPA"), Va. Code. § 59.1-200; (5) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (6) conversion; and (7) a violation of the Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC"), Va. Code § 8.9A-625.

         Priority filed a motion to dismiss all counts for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, invoking the mediation and arbitration provisions of the Buyer's Order. The Court held a hearing on the motion on August 7, 2019. The Court ordered the parties to mediation and stayed the case for forty-five days. The parties did not resolve the case. On December 3, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion insofar as it asks the Court to compel arbitration of Galloway's claims.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") recognizes "that arbitration is a matter of contract[, ]. .. [a]nd... courts must 'rigorously enforce' arbitration agreements according to their terms." Am. Exp. Co. v. Italian Colors Rest.,570 U.S. 228, 233 (2013) (quoting Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 221 (1985)). Virginia law considers arbitration agreements "valid, enforceable[, ] and irrevocable, except upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract." Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-581.01. "The validity of an arbitration agreement is a 'question of arbitrability' and, in the normal course, it 'is undeniably an issue for judicial determination."' Hayes v. Delbert ...


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.