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Amir v. International Bank of Commerce

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, Houston

December 12, 2013

RAMI AMIR AND RON ALIEZER, Appellants
v.
INTERNATIONAL BANK OF COMMERCE, Appellee

Page 688

On Appeal from the 189th District Court, Harris County, Texas. Trial Court Case No. 2012-59086.

For Appellant: Keith Remels, Katherine M. Gonyea, DOW GOLUB REMELS & BEVERLY LLP, Houston, TX.

For Appellee: Mike Seely, David S. Elder, GARDERE WYNNE SEWELL LLP, Houston, TX.

Panel consists of Justices Keyes, Higley, and Massengale.

OPINION

Laura Carter Higley, Justice

Page 689

Appellants, Rami Amir and Ron Aliezer, filed a plea in abatement and motion to compel arbitration in a suit brought by appellee, International Bank of Commerce (IBC). Amir and Aliezer filed a motion to compel arbitration but explained to the trial court they would not pay their portion of the arbitration filing fee. The trial court refused to compel arbitration, and Amir and Aliezer brought this appeal. In one issue, they argue the trial court

Page 690

abused its discretion by denying their motion to compel arbitration.

We reverse and remand.

Background

Amir and Aliezer were guarantors on two construction loan agreements with IBC. In May and June 2012, IBC foreclosed on the properties governed by the loans. In October 2012, IBC filed suit against Amir and Aliezer to recover the deficiencies remaining on the notes after the foreclosures.

After answering, Amir and Aliezer filed a plea in abatement and motion to compel arbitration, relying on the arbitration clauses in the notes, deeds of trust, and guarantees. For purposes of our analysis, the notes, deeds of trust, and guarantees have substantially the same arbitration provisions. The arbitration provision in the guarantees provides that the arbitration provision is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act and that the parties agree to submit to arbitration through the American Arbitration Association. The arbitration provision further provides as follows:

(c) Arbitratable disputes include any and all controversies and claims between the parties of whatever type or manner, including without limitation, any claim arising ...

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