X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision The parties to a home construction contract agreed to arbitrate all disputes between them under the Federal Arbitration Act. The trial court ordered some but not all of the homeowners’ claims to arbitration. All of the claims asserted must be arbitrated. FACTS:The parties to a home construction contract agreed to arbitrate “[a]ll disputes” between them under the Federal Arbitration Act. The trial court ordered some but not all of the homeowners’ claims to arbitration. April and Cornell Greene contracted to purchase a home to be built by First Texas Homes Inc. The Greenes sued First Texas alleging that First Texas failed to construct the house properly and to fix defects. First Texas moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. The trial court ordered the parties to mediation twice, neither of which was successful, and held five hearings on whether to compel arbitration. At last, the trial court granted the motion for all pleaded claims except for the portions of Plaintiffs’ claims for violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act, violation of the Texas Fair Housing Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress that are based upon acts or omissions occurring after the agreement in question was signed. The trial court specifically found: 1. “the arbitration clause in question is valid and enforceable and is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act”; 2. “the arbitration clause was not procured by fraud nor is it otherwise unconscionable”; and, 3. “the Plaintiffs’ claims against Randall Van Wolfswinkel [president of First Texas], in his individual capacity, are subject to the arbitration clause.” First Texas petitioned the court of appeals for mandamus relief directing the trial court to order all of the Greenes’ claims to arbitration. The court of appeals denied the petition without explanation in an unpublished opinion, and First Texas then petitioned this court for mandamus relief. The Greenes have not sought mandamus relief, either in this court or the court of appeals, from that portion of the trial court’s order stating findings and compelling arbitration of most of their claims. On the contrary, the Greenes state in their brief that “the order and judgment of the trial court should be in all things affirmed.” HOLDING:Conditionally granted. First Texas argues that the Greenes’ alleged violations of the state and federal fair housing acts and their allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress are all well within the very broad arbitration clause in the parties’ agreement. The court agrees. Whether claims are arbitrable under the Federal Arbitration Act must be determined under federal law. The court resolves any doubts about this issue in favor of arbitration. In Prudential Securities Inc. v. Marshall, 909 S.W.2d 896 (Tex. 1995) (per curiam), two stockbrokers sued their former employer, alleging that it had made defamatory statements about them after terminating their employment. The court held that these claims fell within the parties’ employment agreement to arbitrate “any dispute, claim or controversy that may arise between [them]“. In the present case, the parties’ agreement to arbitrate “[a]ll disputes between [them]” is equally broad, and the Greenes have offered no reason why “ all” does not mean all. The agreement specifies disputes “arising out of this Agreement or other action performed . . . by [First Texas]“. The Greenes’ claims of discriminatory and derogatory conduct by First Texas are all directly related to First Texas’s construction of their home and refusal to fix alleged defects. Also, the arbitration clause is not limited to conduct occurring prior to execution of the contract. The Greenes present other arguments suggesting their dissatisfaction that any of their claims must be arbitrated, but they do not petition this court for affirmative relief and ask that the trial court’s order “be in all things affirmed.” Therefore, the court does not address these other arguments. OPINION:Per curiam.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.