Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In this original mandamus proceeding, the relators Dillard Department Stores Inc. and Grizelda Reeder (collectively “Dillard”) challenge the trial court’s denial of their motion to compel arbitration under an arbitration agreement between Dillard and an employee, Andrea Martinez. The court of appeals denied Dillard’s petition for writ of mandamus. Andrea Martinez was employed with Dillard for almost 20 years. On Aug. 25, 2000, Martinez signed an arbitration agreement in which she acknowledged that she had received and would be subject to the rules of arbitration contained in the agreement and that her continued employment constituted acceptance of the provisions. The arbitration terms expressly applied to claims arising from employment that were violations of the law or personal injuries arising from termination. The arbitration agreement excluded workers’ compensation claims. Dillard’s representative also signed the agreement. On Nov. 15, 2002, Dillard terminated Martinez’s employment, and Nov. 13, 2003, Martinez filed this suit against Dillard, its district manager, Grizelda Reeder, and two unnamed employees. Martinez asserted a cause of action for defamation. Dillard moved to compel arbitration, first under its revised 2002 arbitration rules, but then amended their filings to compel arbitration under the 2000 rules that Martinez originally acknowledged. It is undisputed that the Federal Arbitration Act applies to the arbitration agreement. HOLDING:Conditionally granted. Martinez does not deny she signed the 2000 arbitration agreement and then continued to work at Dillard. That agreement and its rules of arbitration provide no unilateral right to modify the agreement or the rules. But Dillard’s initial motion to compel arbitration relied on its 2002 rules of arbitration which, unlike the 2000 rules, specifically included defamation claims. Martinez never agreed to the 2002 rules and argued that Dillard’s filing for arbitration under the 2002 rules showed that Dillard intended to retain the right to unilaterally modify the arbitration agreement. In response, however, Dillard agreed that the 2000 rules applied, not the 2002 rules. The arbitration agreement and the 2000 rules do not provide Dillard any right to unilaterally modify the agreement. For that reason, and because both parties agreed to and signed the agreement, the agreement is not illusory and is binding on Martinez. Dillard next argues that even though defamation claims are not specifically mentioned in the 2000 rules, Martinez’s claim is nevertheless covered under the arbitration agreement because defamation is a personal injury. The phrase “personal injuries” has been interpreted by Texas courts to include injuries to reputation. Martinez argues that the term “personal injuries” can reasonably be read to mean only bodily injuries. However, the agreement is susceptible to an interpretation that includes Martinez’s claim of defamation. Therefore, the trial court was required to compel arbitration. Martinez’s claims fall within the scope of the arbitration agreement signed by the parties, the court determines. OPINION:Per curiam.

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

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* 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 © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.