United States District Court, D. Colorado
Kristen L. Mix United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion
to Strike Jury Demand [#226] (the
“Motion”). Plaintiffs filed a Response [#233] in
opposition to the Motion, and Defendants filed a Reply
[#239]. The Court has reviewed the Motion, Response, Reply,
the entire case file, and the applicable law, and is
sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set
forth below, the Motion [#226] is GRANTED.
have asserted five claims in this case: (1) failure to pay
minimum wage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., (2)
recision or voiding of lease agreements, warranties and
promissory notes, and restitution, (3) unjust enrichment and
restitution, (4) quantum meruit, and (5) unlawful retaliation
in violation of the FLSA. Second Am. Compl. [#54]
¶¶ 59-86. Here, Defendants seek to strike
Plaintiffs' Jury Demand [#82]. They assert that
Plaintiffs are not entitled to a jury trial on any of their
claims because (1) Plaintiffs knowingly and voluntarily
waived their right to a jury trial, and (2) Plaintiffs'
claims for rescission, unjust enrichment, and quantum meruit
are purely equitable claims to which no right to a jury
attaches. Motion [#226] at 2.
Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a trial by jury.
United States Const. amend. XII. In cases litigated in
federal courts, this guarantee is governed by federal law.
Telum, Inc. v. E.F. Hutton Credit Corp., 859 F.2d
835, 837 (10th Cir. 1988) (citing Simler v. Conner,
372 U.S. 221, 222 (1963)). As such, the question of whether a
party has waived its right to a jury trial is a question of
federal law. Tracinda Corp. v. Daimler Chrysler AG,
502 F.3d 212, 222 (3d Cir. 2007); see also Allyn v. W.
United Life Assurance Co., 347 F.Supp.2d 1246,
1251 (M.D. Fla. 2004). Jury trial waivers are governed by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 38 and 39. Specifically, Rule 39(a) provides, in
When a jury trial has been demanded under Rule 38, the action
must be designated on the docket as a jury action. The trial
on all issues so demanded must be by jury unless . . . the
court, on motion or on its own, finds that on some or all of
those issues there is no federal right to a jury trial.
Tenth Circuit has found that “[a]greements waiving the
right to trial by jury are neither illegal nor contrary to
public policy.” Telum, 859 F.2d at 837. To be
valid, the waiver must be knowing and intentional. See
Id. (citing Leasing Serv. Corp. v. Crane, 804
F.2d 828, 832 (4th Cir. 1986)).
the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has not enunciated a
complete list of factors to be considered in determining
whether a contractual jury waiver is knowing and voluntary,
courts in this District generally consider the following,
non-exclusive factors: (1) the conspicuousness of the waiver;
(2) the level of sophistication and experience of the
contracting parties; (3) the negotiation of the
contract's terms; (4) the relative bargaining power of
the parties; and (5) whether counsel represented the waiving
party. See Tatonka Capital Corp. v. Connelly, No.
16-cv-01141-MSK-NYW, 2016 WL 9344257, at *12 (D. Colo. Dec.
29, 2016). These factors merely help guide the Court's
inquiry, though, because ultimately the question is
“whether, in light of all the circumstances, the Court
finds the waiver to be unconscionable, contrary to public
policy, or simply unfair.” Id. (quoting
Tara Woods Ltd. P'ship v. Fannie Mae, No.
09-cv-00832-MSK-MEH, 2010 WL 1529459, at *2 (D. Colo. Apr. 1,
2010). Courts in this District place the burden of proving
that a waiver was knowing and voluntary on the party seeking
to enforce the waiver. Tatonka Capital Corp., 2016
WL 9344257, at *12.
the first factor, i.e., the conspicuousness of the waiver,
the relevant Equipment Lease Agreement contains the following
29. WAIVER OF JURY TRIAL. THE LESSOR AND THE
LESSEE HEREBY WAIVE TRIAL BY JURY IN ANY ACTION, PROCEEDING
OR COUNTERCLAIM BROUGHT BY OR AGAINST EACH OTHER ON, OR IN
RESPECT OF, ANY MATTER ARISING OUT OF, RELATING TO OR
PERTAINING TO THIS EQUIPMENT LEASE, THE INTERPRETATION,
BREACH, ENFORCEMENT OR SUBJECT MATTER THEREOF, THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LESSEE AND THE LESSOR AND/OR ANY
CLAIM OF INJURY OR DAMAGE FROM ANY OTHER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
THE PARTIES HERETO.
[#195-16] at 8 (emphasis in original). The provision is the
last numbered paragraph in the agreement and is located on
the same page and only shortly above where each Plaintiff
signed the agreement. Id. The provision is also one
of only two numbered paragraphs in the agreement which is
emphasized in all capital letters. Id. The heading
of the paragraph is printed in all capital letters and is
emphasized in bold. Id. The Court finds this factor
weighs heavily in favor of a knowing and voluntary waiver.
See, e.g., Moreno v. Qwest Corp., No.
13-cv-00103-RM-MEH, 2013 WL 2444720, at *3-4 (D. Colo. June
5, 2013) (holding that this factor weighed in favor of waiver
where the heading of the provision was set forth in bold,
capital letters located four paragraphs above the signature
the second factor, i.e., the level of sophistication and
experience of the contracting parties, ths issue is whether
the waiving party was “sufficiently sophisticated to
understand the meaning” of the jury waiver provision.
Post Net Int'l Franchise Corp. v. Amercis Int'l,
Inc., No. 06-cv-00125-PSF-BNB, 2006 WL 1775599, at *3
(D. Colo. June 26, 2010). The issue is not whether the
waiving party was sufficiently sophisticated to understand
the meaning of the entire contract and all of its provisions,
but merely whether the waiving party was sufficiently
sophisticated to understand the jury waiver provision itself.
See Telum, 859 F.2d at 837-38 (holding that
allegations relating to invalidation of a contract as a whole
are insufficient to invalidate a jury waiver without
providing allegations specific to the jury waiver). Further,
“[i]t is a fundamental principle of law that, absent
fraud or concealment, a person who signs a document is
presumed to have knowledge of the document's contents,
independent of whether that person has read the
document.” Breaux v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co.,
387 F.Supp.2d 1154, 1162 (D. Colo. 2005). Given this bedrock
principle and in the absence of any evidence that Plaintiffs
were not “sufficiently ...