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Jacaman Polaris Sports Center Ltd. v. Falcon International Bank

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

July 5, 2017

JACAMAN POLARIS SPORTS CENTER LTD. and Eduardo Andres Jacaman, Appellants
v.
FALCON INTERNATIONAL BANK, Appellee

         From the 49th Judicial District Court, Webb County, Texas Trial Court No. 2014CV7001041 D1 Honorable Jose A. Lopez, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini, Justice Irene Rios, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Irene Rios, Justice.

         Introduction

         Jacaman Polaris Sports Center Ltd. and Eduardo Jacaman (collectively, "the Jacaman parties") appeal the trial court's order confirming an arbitration award and final judgment. On appeal, the Jacaman parties contend the trial court erred by: (1) assigning the case to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act; and (2) failing to file amended findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Jacaman parties also contend the trial court erred by confirming the arbitration award because: (1) there is no record of the summary judgment hearing in the arbitration proceedings; (2) they were not provided sufficient notice of a summary judgment hearing in the arbitration proceedings; and (3) the arbitration panel did not allow the Jacaman parties to contest the unliquidated damages awarded. Finally, the Jacaman parties contend they should be awarded attorney fees should they prevail on appeal. We overrule the Jacaman parties' issues and affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         Jacaman Polaris Sports Center Ltd. entered into a loan contract under which it borrowed $2, 000, 000 from Falcon International Bank (Falcon Bank). In this transaction, Eduardo Jacaman signed a real estate lien note and a deed of trust on behalf of Jacaman Sports Center, giving Falcon Bank a security interest in a commercial lot. Eduardo Jacaman also signed a guaranty for the loan. All parties signed an arbitration agreement confirming they would arbitrate any disputes that might arise from the loan transaction.

         Later, in a separate loan transaction, Jacaman Sports Center borrowed $240, 000 from Falcon Bank. Eduardo Jacaman signed a real estate lien note and a deed of trust on behalf of Jacaman Sports Center, giving Falcon Bank a security interest in five acres in Webb County. Eduardo Jacaman also signed a guaranty for this loan. Again, all parties signed an arbitration agreement confirming they would arbitrate any disputes that might arise from the loan transaction.

         After Falcon Bank foreclosed on the two properties given as security, the Jacaman parties filed suit alleging Falcon Bank violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and committed statutory fraud. Falcon Bank moved to compel arbitration, and the trial court granted its motion over the Jacaman parties' objection.

         Falcon Bank filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association (AAA). After appointment of an arbitration panel, Falcon Bank filed a motion for summary judgment. On November 13, 2015, the AAA notified the parties of a hearing on the motion scheduled for December 2, 2015, and advised the parties that the panel "may postpone any hearing . . . upon request of a party for good cause shown." On January 14, 2016, the panel issued an award granting Falcon Bank's motion for summary judgment. In so doing, the panel ruled that Eduardo Jacaman and Jacaman Sports Center take nothing against Falcon Bank on all of their claims, and Falcon Bank recover $19, 125.00 in attorneys' fees and recover all administrative costs and expenses of the arbitration.

         Falcon Bank moved the trial court to confirm the arbitrators' award. The Jacaman parties filed a response to the motion and a separate motion asking the trial court to vacate the arbitrators' award. The trial court confirmed the arbitrators' award and rendered judgment in accordance with the arbitrators' award. The trial court subsequently entered findings of fact and conclusions of law in which it concluded: (a) the arbitrators' award was not procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means; (b) there was no evident partiality or corruption by the arbitrators; (c) the arbitrators were not guilty of any misconduct or misbehavior; and (d) the arbitrators did not exceed their powers. The Jacaman parties perfected this appeal.

         Analysis

         Issue One: Whether the trial court erred by assigning the case to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act because the transaction involved intrastate commerce, only

         The Jacaman parties contend the trial court erred by assigning this case to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The Jacaman parties argue all of the parties are Texas residents and the loan contracts involved property in Texas. Therefore, the contracts affected only intrastate commerce. Because the FAA applies only to interstate commerce, the Jacaman parties contend the lawsuit should not have been assigned to arbitration under the FAA.

         Standard of Review

         A trial court's determination of choice of law is a question of law and is reviewed de novo. In re Chestnut Energy Partners, Inc., 300 S.W.3d 386, 398 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, pet. denied).

         Application

         All parties signed arbitration agreements as part of the loan documents. These ...


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