Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
SUPER STARR INTERNATIONAL, LLC, LANCE PETERSON, AND RED STARR, SPR DE RL DE CV, Appellants,
FRESH TEX PRODUCE, LLC, INDIVIDUALLY AND DERIVATIVELY ON BEHALF OF TEX STARR DISTRIBUTING, LLC, AND KEMAL MERT GUMUS, Appellees.
appeal from the 92nd District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas.
Justices Rodriguez, Benavides, and Hinojosa
V. RODRIGUEZ Justice
appeal concerns an arbitration agreement. Appellants Lance
Peterson and his two companies Super Starr International, LLC
(the Importer) and Red Starr, SPR de RL de CV (the Grower)
grow papayas. Appellants collaborated with appellee Fresh Tex
Produce, LLC (Fresh Tex) to distribute the papayas in the
United States. Together, appellants and Fresh Tex formed a
separate company for distribution: Tex Starr Distributing,
LLC (the LLC). However, the relationship between the parties
soured, and Fresh Tex filed suit, individually and
derivatively on behalf of the LLC.
moved to compel arbitration. Fresh Tex responded with a
motion to enjoin arbitration, which the trial court granted.
Further, the court denied appellants' motion to stay
litigation, and it set the case for trial.
issues, appellants contend that the agreement required the
trial court to defer the question of arbitrability to the
arbitrator. We reverse and remand.
our second occasion to consider an interlocutory appeal from
the suit between Fresh Tex and appellants. In our prior
opinion, we detailed the development of the papaya
distribution business that was founded by Fresh Tex and
appellants, the breakdown of their relationship, and the
subsequent suit and temporary injunction. Super Starr
Int'l, LLC v. Fresh Tex Produce, LLC, S.W.3d,, No.
13-16-00663-CV, 2017 WL 3084294, at *1 (Tex. App.-Corpus
Christi July 20, 2017, no pet. h.) [hereinafter
"Super Starr I"].
Alford owns and manages Fresh Tex, a produce distribution
business based in Texas. On October 18, 2016, Fresh Tex filed
suit individually and derivatively on behalf of the LLC.
Named as defendants were: (1) the Importer, a Texas entity
that imports produce into the United States; (2) the Grower,
a Mexican entity that grows produce in Mexico and exports it
into the United States through the Importer; (3) Lance
Peterson, the current president and owner of the Importer and
the Grower; and (4) Kemal Mert Gumus, an employee of the
crux of Fresh Tex's suit is that the appellants committed
various torts when they started a competing
produce-distribution operation and took customers away from
Fresh Tex and the LLC. Fresh Tex requested a temporary
injunction to compel appellants to continue distributing
papayas exclusively through the LLC, among other things.
After hearing the evidence, the trial court granted Fresh
Tex's request and entered a temporary injunction which
was the subject of our opinion in Super Starr I.
See id. This appeal concerns a second temporary
injunction which enjoins appellants from pursuing
Origins of the Underlying Suit
record reveals that in 2010, Alford was approached by David
Peterson, the father of appellant Lance Peterson. David was
also the founder and co-owner of the Importer and the Grower.
David proposed that Fresh Tex and the Importer work together
to market a new hybrid papaya and, to that end, form a new
limited liability company. Alford agreed. On January 1, 2011,
the LLC was formed with two members, Fresh Tex and the
Importer, and two managers, Alford and David Peterson.
David, and Lance executed an operating agreement (the First
Agreement) to govern the LLC. Section 14.7 of the First
Agreement provided that the parties would submit any disputes
to binding arbitration.
passed away in September 2013. Lance assumed ownership of the
Importer and the Grower, and by extension, assumed control
over half of the LLC. At some point, the parties executed a
revised version of the agreement, effective January 1, 2014
(the Second Agreement). The Second Agreement contained the