Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Construction Law
Lennar Homes of Tex. Land & Construction, Ltd. v. Whiteley
The Supreme Court reversed in part the opinion of the court of appeals in this interlocutory appeal concerning whether a subsequent purchaser (Purchaser) of a home is required to arbitrate her claims against the builder (Builder) for alleged construction defects, holding that the trial court erred in granting Purchaser's motion to vacate and denying Builder's motion to confirm.The trial court granted the motion to compel arbitration filed by Builder, which joined two subcontractors in the arbitration, asserting that they owed defense and indemnity obligations. The arbitrator issued an award in favor of Builder. The trial court vacated the award against Purchaser but made no ruling whether to vacate the award against the subcontractors. The Supreme Court rendered judgment confirming the award against Purchaser and remanded the case, holding (1) Purchaser was bound by the arbitration clause in the purchase-and-sale agreement under the doctrine of direct-benefits estoppel; and (2) because the record contained no ruling on whether to vacate the award against the subcontractors, remand was required. View "Lennar Homes of Tex. Land & Construction, Ltd. v. Whiteley" on Justia Law
Petrolex II LLC v. Bailey Group LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the superior court granting motions to stay the superior court proceedings in four cases and refer them to arbitration in this construction dispute, holding that that superior court correctly found that these disagreement must be resolved through arbitration.Plaintiff substituted itself as the plaintiff and assignee of three subcontractors in in three mechanics' liens actions and then filed an additional complaint against the assignee of nine further subcontractors. Plaintiff further filed a complaint claiming it was owed $854,352 from Defendants. Defendants moved to stay the proceedings in all five cases and refer them to arbitration. The trial justice found that the language of the subcontracts required mandatory arbitration for the disputes and compelled the parties to participate in mandatory arbitration. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the disputes must be referred for arbitration. View "Petrolex II LLC v. Bailey Group LLC" on Justia Law
Escapes! To the Shores Condominium Association, Inc. v. Hoar Construction, LLC, et al.
Escapes! To the Shores Condominium Association, Inc. ("the Association"), individually and on behalf of certain condominium-unit owners, appealed an order denying a Rule 59, Ala. R. Civ. P. motion to vacate a judgment entered on an arbitration award in favor of Hoar Construction, LLC ("Hoar"), and Architectural Surfaces, Inc. ("ASI"). The arbitration award in favor of Hoar and ASI stemmed from the construction of a condominium building located in Orange Beach known as "Escapes! To the Shores." Hoar was the general contractor for the construction project; Stephen Hill was the architect for the construction project; and ASI was the subcontractor responsible for the installation of the exterior surfaces to the condominium building. After construction of the condominium building was substantially complete, the developer of the project sold the units and transferred ownership and management of the common areas to the Association. The Association thereafter filed suit against Hoar, ASI, and Hill seeking damages arising out of alleged construction and design defects to the condominium building, specifically, "stucco blistering and water intrusion." The Association's claims against Hoar and ASI proceeded to arbitration, but its claims against Hill remained pending in the trial court. A panel of three arbitrators issued a final award in favor of Hoar and ASI, concluding, in relevant part, that the defects to the condominium building were the result of a design defect and not a construction defect. Once the trial court entered a judgment on the arbitration award, the Association thereafter filed a Rule 59 motion to vacate that judgment. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the Association has failed to demonstrate that the arbitration panel engaged in misconduct that would warrant vacatur. Accordingly, the order denying the Association's Rule 59 motion and the judgment entered on the arbitration award were affirmed. View "Escapes! To the Shores Condominium Association, Inc. v. Hoar Construction, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc. v. Ha
In this dispute over an arbitration clause within a contract, the Supreme Court held that the minor children who joined Plaintiffs, their parents, in bringing this action seeking damages for construction defects in their home may be compelled to arbitrate along with their parents on the basis of direct-benefits estoppel.Plaintiffs, Tony and Michelle Ha, signed a purchase agreement with Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. to build a home in Texas. The agreement included an arbitration provision. The Has sued both Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. and Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc., for negligent construction and other claims, alleging the home developed significant mold problems due to construction defects. Plaintiffs' second amended petition named both Tony and Michelle and their three children. Taylor Morrison moved to compel arbitration, but the trial court denied the motion as it pertained to Michelle and the children. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that when a family unit resides in a home and files suit for factually intertwined construction-defect claims concerning the home, a nonsignatory spouse and minor children have accepted direct benefits under the signatory spouse’s purchase agreement such that they may be compelled to arbitrate through direct-benefits estoppel. View "Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc. v. Ha" on Justia Law
Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc. v. Skufca
In this dispute over an arbitration clause within a contract, the Supreme Court held that the minor children who joined Plaintiffs, their parents, in bringing this action seeking damages for construction defects in their home may be compelled to arbitrate along with their parents on the basis of direct-benefits estoppel.Plaintiffs, Jack and Erin Skufca, signed a purchase agreement with Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. to build a home in Texas. The agreement included an arbitration provision. Plaintiffs sued both Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. and Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc., for construction defects and fraud, alleging that less than a year after they moved in, the home developed mold issues that caused their minor children to be ill. The petition listed Jack and Erin as plaintiffs individually, as well as Erin as next friend of the couple's children. Taylor Morrison moved to compel arbitration, but the trial court denied the motion as it pertained to the children. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the minor children sued based on the contract and were subject to its terms, including the arbitration clause. View "Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc. v. Skufca" on Justia Law
Vascos Excavation Group LLC v. Gold
Plaintiff and appellant, a contractor, prevailed in an arbitration against its client, the Defendant and Respondent. After finding that Plaintiff was not duly licensed because its responsible managing employee (RME) did not meet the criteria required by law, the trial court granted Defendant's petition to vacate the arbitration award on the ground that the arbitrator exceeded her powers.Plaintiff made two main arguments on appeal. It first contends the trial court misapplied the burden of proof regarding whether Plaintiff was a duly licensed contractor. The Second Appellate District rejected this argument, finding that the trial court correctly determined that Plaintiff had the burden of proof on this issue.Plaintiff also argued the trial court erroneously denied it an evidentiary hearing. In the trial court, however, Plaintiff did not seek an evidentiary hearing. It instead argued that such a hearing was not authorized by law. Therefore, the Second Appellate District held that Plaintiff forfeited the issue on appeal. View "Vascos Excavation Group LLC v. Gold" on Justia Law
Shafer v. Scarborough, et al.
Justin Shafer appealed a district court judgment confirming an arbitration award against Diamond Development & Custom Homes, L.L.C. Shafer argued the district court erred by failing to increase the amount of damages he was awarded. He also argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should narrowly expand the standard for reviewing an arbitration award. The Court declined Shafer’s request to expand the standard of review, and concluded the district court did not err in confirming the arbitration award. View "Shafer v. Scarborough, et al." on Justia Law
University of Notre Dame (USA) in England v. TJAC Waterloo, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court confirming certain damages awarded to The University of Notre Dame (USA) in England (Notre Dame) by a foreign arbitral tribunal in a contractual dispute relating to construction defects, holding that Notre Dame's petition for judicial confirmation of the awards was not time-barred.Notre Dame brought this action against TJAC Waterloo, LLC and ZVI Construction Co., who were, respectively, the seller and renovator of a dormitory that Notre Dame had agreed to purchase. The dispute was submitted to arbitration. After the arbitrator entered the awards, Notre Dame moved the district court to confirm the awards and entered summary judgment in its favor. The district court granted Notre Dame's request for judicial confirmation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Notre Dame's motion for judicial confirmation was not time-barred. View "University of Notre Dame (USA) in England v. TJAC Waterloo, LLC" on Justia Law
Hillhouse v. Chris Cook Construction, LLC, et al.
Timothy and Rebecca Hillhouse entered into a contract with Chris Cook Construction for the construction of their home. The contract contained an arbitration provision mandating that arbitration be conducted before a forum that was unavailable at the time the contract was executed. The trial court entered an order compelling arbitration and appointing an arbitrator. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in so doing: because the forum was a contract requirement, the arbitration provision was unenforceable, and appointing an arbitrator required courts to reform the contractual agreement between the parties. Judgment was reversed and the trial court’s order compelling arbitration and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Hillhouse v. Chris Cook Construction, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Wayne Farms LLC v. Primus Builders, Inc.
Wayne Farms LLC appealed a circuit court order compelling it to arbitrate its claims asserted against Primus Builders, Inc., and staying the action. Wayne Farms was a poultry producer located in Dothan, Alabama. Wayne Farms sought to expand its poultry-processing facility, and, to that end, entered into a "Design/Build Agreement" with Primus in 2017, that specifically addressed work to be completed by Primus in connection with the expansion of Wayne Farms' freezer warehouse. Primus subcontracted with Republic Refrigeration, Inc.; Republic hired Steam-Co, LLC for "passivation services." Upon draining a condenser for the freezer warehouse, it was discovered that the interior of the condenser was coated with corrosive "white rust." Primus then replaced the damaged condenser at a cost of approximately $500,000 under a change order, pursuant the Design/Build Agreement with Wayne Farms. Wayne Farms paid Primus for both the original damaged condenser and the replacement condenser. Both Primus and Steam-Co have claimed that the other is responsible for the damage to the condenser. Wayne Farms sued Primus and Steam-Co asserting claims of breach of contract and negligence and seeking damages for the damaged condenser and the cost of replacing it. Primus moved the trial court to compel arbitration as to the claims asserted against it by Wayne Farms. Primus also moved the trial court to dismiss, or in the alternative, stay Steam-Co's cross-claims against it. Wayne Farms opposed Primus's motion to compel arbitration, arguing that no contract existed between the parties requiring it to arbitrate claims arising from the passivation process. The Alabama Supreme Court found that the contract between Wayne Farms and Primus specified arbitration would apply to only those disputes arising from obligations or performance under the Design/Build Agreement, Wayne Farms could not be compelled to arbitrate with Primus a dispute arising from the performance of passivation work that was not an obligation agreed to in the Design/Build Agreement. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Wayne Farms LLC v. Primus Builders, Inc." on Justia Law