Mudge stays wage assignment class action, orders arbitration

By Ann Maher | Nov 13, 2014

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge has ordered arbitration in a class action involving a wage assignment dispute.

In a Nov. 3 ruling, Mudge stayed proceedings in litigation brought by Rebecca Sue Streubel who sued Ardmore Finance Corp. in March claiming the company did not provide her with adequate notice before it garnished her paycheck.

According to the complaint, Ardmore began taking wages from her paychecks on Feb. 6 under a wage assignment she had signed. She claims she was not given a required 20 day notice prior to wages being taken from her paycheck.

According to case background, Streubel borrowed $600 and signed a promissory note agreeing to pay back the loan in $80 monthly installments. She subsequently signed a pre-dispute arbitration agreement, renewed the loan, borrowed more money and provided Ardmore with a wage assignment. Seven months later she defaulted on the loan and stopped making payments.

Ardmore then made demand on Streubel’s employer for wage assignment.

Streubel, represented by Shari Murphy of Wood River, filed a class action claiming she was not given proper notice prior to wages being taken from her paycheck.

Mudge’s order states that Ardmore made a written request to Murphy requesting arbitration “to which there has been no reply.”

Ardmore argued that its pre-dispute arbitration agreement is enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act.

Streubel countered by challenging the agreement’s validity saying the loan agreements and wage assignments did not contain the word “arbitration,” and that the agreement was entered into “in a vacuum.”

Mudge found otherwise.

“The agreement to arbitrate is clear and unmistakable,” he wrote.

The question then turns to whether Ardmore waived arbitration by executing the demand on Streubel’s employer pursuant to the wage assignment and litigating the case, he wrote.

“The court finds that defendant notified plaintiff of its desire to arbitrate early on in this dispute when it sent the letter requesting arbitration after it was served with suit,” Mudge wrote. “The defendant’s litigation activity was responsive to plaintiff’s Ch. 13 bankruptcy and her state court claim, and in both the bankruptcy and the state court lawsuit the defendant filed an answer with affirmative defenses that raised the arbitration agreement.”

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-358.

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