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Ecoclean USA, Inc. v. Geneon Technologies, LLC

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

December 6, 2017

ECOCLEAN USA, INC., Appellant
v.
GENEON TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, John P. Shanahan and Syd Williams, Appellees

         From the 166th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2017CI01153 Honorable Laura Salinas, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Marialyn Barnard, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Irene Rios, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          IRENE RIOS, JUSTICE

         AFFIRMED

         Appellees Geneon Technologies, LLC, John. P. Shanahan, and Syd Williams filed suit against appellant EcoClean USA, Inc. to confirm an arbitration award. In response, EcoClean filed motions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction and to vacate the arbitration award. The trial court denied EcoClean's motions and signed a final judgment confirming the arbitration award. On appeal, EcoClean contends the arbitration clause was unenforceable and the arbitration award void because the arbitration did not take place "in a mutually agreed upon location." We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Background

         In April 2014, EcoClean and Geneon entered into an purchasing agreement for EcoClean to sell Geneon's product. In November 2014, the parties signed the First Amendment to the purchasing agreement. The First Amendment included Paragraph 12, which stated controversies or claims would be settled by arbitration under the American Arbitration Association's (AAA) Commercial Arbitration Rules, with the arbitration hearing to take place "in a mutually agreed upon location."

         The record indicates EcoClean did not pay for merchandise delivered by Geneon, and on September 15, 2015, Geneon filed a demand for arbitration with the AAA, requesting arbitration be held in San Antonio. On October 9, 2015, EcoClean filed suit in a California court against Geneon, as well as John Shanahan and Syd Williams. On December 29, 2015, Geneon filed a motion to compel arbitration in the California case. EcoClean opposed the motion to compel, arguing that because the parties could not agree to a location for the arbitration hearing, the arbitration clause was unenforceable.

         The California court determined the "mutually agreed upon location" term was not an essential term of the parties' agreement to arbitrate and the parties leaving the decision of where arbitration would take place to a later time did not render the parties' agreement to arbitrate fatally uncertain. The California court additionally determined that all the claims or controversies arising from the parties' purchasing agreement and amendment to the purchasing agreement were intended to be settled by arbitration, including the location of the arbitration. Accordingly, the California court found that an enforceable agreement to arbitrate existed between the parties and the arbitration location was for the arbitrator to decide.

         Following the California court's decision and receipt of the parties' arguments regarding the venue, the AAA determined San Antonio was a proper venue for arbitration, and chose Hon. Phylis Speedlin as arbitrator. The arbitrator allowed further briefing regarding the arbitration location and ultimately ruled San Antonio was a proper venue for arbitration. The hearing took place from October 31, 2016 to November 3, 2016. On January 12, 2017, the arbitrator entered an award in favor of appellees and denied EcoClean's claims against appellees.

         Appellees filed suit to confirm the award. In response, EcoClean filed motions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction and to vacate the arbitration award. The trial court denied EcoClean's motions and confirmed the arbitration award.

         This appeal followed.

         Analysis

         EcoClean's underlying complaint is that the arbitration did not take place in a mutually agreed upon location. According to EcoClean, because the parties could not agree to a ...


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