Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Utility Trailer Sales Southeast Texas, Inc. v. Lozano

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

July 19, 2017

UTILITY TRAILER SALES SOUTHEAST TEXAS, INC., Appellant
v.
Hector L. LOZANO and Mary E. Short, Appellees

         From the 341st Judicial District Court, Webb County, Texas Trial Court No. 2015CVT003881 D3 Honorable Rebecca Ramirez Palomo, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice, Marialyn Barnard, Justice, Irene Rios, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Marialyn Barnard, Justice

         REVERSED AND REMANDED

         Utility Trailer Sales Southeast Texas, Inc. ("UTS") appeals the trial court's order denying its motion to compel arbitration. We reverse the trial court's order and remand the cause to the trial court with instructions to sign an order compelling arbitration and staying the pending litigation.

         Background

         Hector L. Lozano was first employed by UTS on May 3, 2010. Lozano quit his employment in October of 2012, but was rehired by UTS on May 3, 2013. Lozano was injured on the job in 2014, and sued UTS for negligence. UTS filed a motion to compel arbitration.

         In response to UTS's motion, Lozano admitted he signed an arbitration acknowledgment, agreeing to arbitrate any claims against UTS pursuant to a Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Claims (the "2010 Arbitration Agreement"), when he was first hired in 2010. Lozano disputed, however, that he signed a second arbitration acknowledgment when he was rehired by UTS in 2013. UTS presented evidence in an effort to prove Lozano signed a second arbitration acknowledgment in 2013. After hearing the evidence, the trial court signed an order denying UTS's motion to compel. UTS appeals.

         Standard of Review

         An appellate court reviews a trial court's order denying a motion to compel arbitration for an abuse of discretion, deferring to the trial court's factual determinations if they are supported by the record and reviewing legal determinations de novo. In re Labatt Food Serv., L.P., 279 S.W.3d 640, 643 (Tex. 2009); Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S., Inc. v. Bray, 499 S.W.3d 96, 102 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2016, no pet.). Whether a valid arbitration agreement exists is a legal determination subject to de novo review. Labatt Food Serv., L.P., 279 S.W.3d at 643; J.M. Davidson, Inc. v. Webster, 128 S.W.3d 223, 227 (Tex. 2003); Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S., Inc., 499 S.W.3d at 102.

         Did Lozano Sign an Arbitration Acknowledgment in 2013?

         UTS first contends the trial court abused its discretion in denying its motion to compel arbitration because the evidence conclusively established Lozano executed the arbitration acknowledgment when he was rehired in 2013. UTS contends that although Lozano stated in his deposition that he did not recall signing the arbitration acknowledgment in 2013, "the record establishes otherwise."

         As previously noted, in reviewing a trial court's order denying a motion to compel arbitration, we defer to the trial court's factual determinations if they are supported by the record. Labatt Food Serv., L.P., 279 S.W.3d at 643; Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S., Inc., 499 S.W.3d at 102. In addition, we defer to any credibility determinations that may have affected the trial court's factual determinations, and we may not substitute our opinion for that of the trial court. See Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.3d 833, 839-40 (1992); Okorafor v. Uncle Sam & Assocs., Inc., 295 S.W.3d 27, 38 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2009, pet. denied).

         In his deposition, Lozano was shown an arbitration acknowledgment with his signature that was dated May 3, 2013. Lozano testified he signed the arbitration acknowledgment in 2010, not in 2013. Lozano stated the May 3, 2013 date on the arbitration acknowledgment was not his writing. In addition, the arbitration acknowledgment signed by Lozano referred to the benefits schedule, summary plan description, and mutual agreement to arbitrate effective March 23, 2010. Although UTS presented conflicting evidence seeking to establish that Lozano signed the arbitration acknowledgment in 2013, we defer to the trial court's evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given to the evidence. Because the record contains evidence supporting the trial court's implied finding that Lozano did not sign the arbitration acknowledgment in 2013, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying UTS's motion to compel based on the theory that Lozano executed the arbitration acknowledgment in 2013.

         Is Lozano Bound to Arbitration by the 2010 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.