Question on arbitration options against JHPDE for Citi card

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I have been sued by JHPDE over a Citi card account they bought. Learned about it through an online case search, but I have yet to see a summons. A court hearing is scheduled for October 16 in a Pennsylvania municipal court.
I was going over the arbitration clause of the card and I am somewhat unsure of its interpretation. At first glance, it seems that since the small claims case has been initiated, I cannot (or the case cannot) be transferred to arbitration. But later, it says that I can compel arbitration as long as the trial has not begun. Am I reading this correctly? I posted the text of the arbitration section below with concerned portions in italics.

Thank you!



Covered claims

•  You or we may arbitrate any claim, dispute or controversy between you and us arising out of or related to your Account, a previous related Account or our relationship (called “Claims”).

•  If arbitration is chosen by any party, neither you nor we will  have the right to litigate that Claim in court or have a jury trial  on that Claim. Except as stated below, all Claims are subject to arbitration, no matter what legal theory they’re based on or what remedy (damages, or injunctive or declaratory relief) they seek, including Claims based on contract, tort (including intentional tort), fraud, agency, your or our negligence, statutory or regulatory provisions, or any other sources of law; Claims made as counterclaims, cross-claims, third-party claims, interpleaders or otherwise; Claims made regarding past, present or future conduct; and Claims made independently or with other claims. This also includes Claims made by or against anyone connected with us or you or claiming through us or you, or by someone making a claim through us or you, such as a co-applicant, Authorized User, employee, agent, representative or an affiliated/parent/subsidiary company. Arbitration limits

Individual Claims filed in a small claims court are not subject to arbitration, as long as the matter stays in small claims court.

• We won’t initiate arbitration to collect a debt from you unless you choose to arbitrate or assert a Claim against us. If you assert a Claim against us, we can choose to arbitrate, including actions to collect a debt from you. You may arbitrate on an individual basis Claims brought against you, including Claims to collect a debt.

• Claims brought as part of a class action, private attorney general or other representative action can be arbitrated only on an individual basis. The arbitrator has no authority to arbitrate any claim on a class or representative basis and may award relief only on an individual basis. If arbitration is chosen by any party, neither you nor we may pursue a Claim as part of a class action or other representative action. Claims of 2 or more persons may not be combined in the same arbitration. However, applicants, co-applicants, Authorized Users on a single Account and/or related Accounts, or corporate affiliates are here considered as one person. 

How arbitration works

• Arbitration shall be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) according to this arbitration provision and the applicable AAA arbitration rules in effect when the claim is filed (“AAA Rules”), except where those rules conflict with this arbitration provision. You can obtain copies of the AAA Rules at the AAA’s website (www or by calling 800-778-7879. You or we may choose to have a hearing, appear at any hearing by phone or other electronic means, and/or be represented by counsel. Any in-person hearing will be held in the same city as the U.S. District Court closest to your billing address.

Arbitration may be requested at any time, even where there is a pending lawsuit, unless a trial has begun or a final judgment entered. Neither you nor we waive the right to arbitrate by filing or serving a complaint, answer, counterclaim, motion or discovery in a court lawsuit. To choose arbitration, a party may file a motion to compel arbitration in a pending matter and/or commence arbitration by submitting the required AAA forms and requisite filing fees to the AAA.

• The arbitration shall be conducted by a single arbitrator in accord with this arbitration provision and the AAA Rules, which may limit discovery. The arbitrator shall not apply any federal or state rules of civil procedure for discovery, but the arbitrator shall honor claims of privilege recognized at law and shall take reasonable steps to protect Account information and other confidential information of either party if requested to do so. The arbitrator shall apply applicable substantive law consistent with the FAA and applicable statute of limitations, and may award damages or other relief under applicable law.



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PA doesn't have a "small claims" court.  The lowest Civil court there is Magisterial District Court.  Since the Citi agreement doesn't have the "...or your state's equivalent court..." language, the position I would take is that Citi never defined "small claims court" in the agreement, and since there is no court in PA called "small claims", the small claims exemption does not apply.  No guarantee your judge will agree with you, but this argument has worked in the past.

Who is suing you?  If Citi still owns the debt there's a pretty decent chance they will follow you into arbitration.

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(Time goes by...)

I had responded to the original complaint with a Motion to Compel Arbitration... then waited. About 15 days after the hearing date (which I did not attend), the judge dismissed it without prejudice. Two days ago, JHPDE reopens the same case and notes that they issued a civil complaint via hand delivery. I was not delivered any official complaint, the original one or this new one, by hand or any other means.

The new hearing is after Christmas. Should I resend my motion to compel arbitration again? If I was never approached for the summons, what should I be looking for?

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24 minutes ago, RelayerPA said:

Should I resend my motion to compel arbitration again?

Yes, but verify that a new case has in fact been opened (or the old one reopened).

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My son was served the summons in my absence. PA allows for that, I believe, since he is an adult and residing in my house. However, I did not read it personally because I rarely spend time at that house. Assuming that's no excuse for not being served, I guess I need to go to the court to get the details of the case and, once again, argue for a MCA.

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