Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fourth District Reverses Order Denying Motion To Compel Arbitration

In Ballenisles Country Club, Inc. v. Dexter Realty (4D09-485), the Fourth District reversed the trial court's denial of a motion to compel arbitration.  The court held:
“A court must compel arbitration where an arbitration agreement and an arbitrable issue exists, and th e right to arbitrate has not been waived.”...Arbitration is a preferred method of dispute resolution, so any doubt regarding the scope of an arbitration clause should be resolved in favor of arbitration.
Arbitration clauses are construed according to basic contract interpretation principles. Seifert v. U.S. Home Corp., 750 So. 2d 633, 636 (Fla. 1999). The plain language of the agreement containing the arbitration clause is the best evidence of the parties’ intent. Royal Oak Landing Homeowner’s Ass’n v. Pelletier, 620 So. 2d 786, 788 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993). The arbitration clause must be read together with the other provisions in the contract. See J.C. Penney Co. v. Koff, 345 So. 2d 732, 735 (Fla. 4th DCA 1977) (stating that a court must review the contract “without fragmenting any segment or portion”).
We conclude, however, that the arbitration clauses in the Subscription Agreement fall into Aberdeen’s first category. The broad language of these clauses shows that they were meant to operate as an irrevocable substitute for litigation in court and were meant to survive the transition of control of the country club, just as certain covenants in the Subscription Agreement and Membership Purchase Agreements survived that transition.


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