the 413th District Court Johnson County, Texas Trial Court
No. DC- C201600551
Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Scoggins.
eleven issues, appellant, T&T Rock Distribution, LLC,
complains about the trial court's denial of its motion to
compel arbitration and stay litigation proceedings. We
original petition, appellee, Rutilio I. Velasco, alleged that
he sustained life-altering injuries as a result of an
incident that occurred at "the Yard, which was owned,
possessed, managed, operated and/or controlled by one of more
of the Defendants."Specifically, while working for
appellant, Velasco was standing on the conveyor belt of a
Superior Telestacker machine while the machine was turned
off, attempting to resolve an issue with the machine.
However, another worker turned the conveyor belt of the
machine on while Velasco was still standing on it or near it,
which caused Velasco to be thrown to the ground thirty feet
below. As a result of the incident, Velasco asserted that he
sustained "multiple broken bones, punctured organs, and
damage to his head, neck, and face. Mr. Velasco's
diagnosis is still ongoing." And because of these
injuries, Velasco asserted premises-liability and negligence
claims against appellant.
other things, appellant filed an original answer denying the
allegations contained in Velasco's original petition, as
well as a motion to compel arbitration and stay litigation
proceedings. In its motion to compel arbitration, appellant
contended that Velasco signed an arbitration agreement, which
waived his right to initiate or prosecute a lawsuit and
required the arbitration of claims, including tort claims and
claims arising from work-related injuries. Appellant also
asserted that Velasco's injuries were covered under the
arbitration agreement and that the Federal Arbitration Act
applied in this case. Attached to appellant's motion to
compel arbitration were copies of the arbitration
agreement-one in English, which was not signed by Velasco,
and what appellant refers to as a Spanish version of the
arbitration agreement that was signed by Velasco. Velasco
responded to appellant's motion to compel arbitration
arguing that "there is no enforceable arbitration
agreement in place, " among other things.
after a hearing, the trial court denied appellant's
motion to compel arbitration and stay litigation proceedings.
This accelerated, interlocutory appeal followed. See
Tex. R. App. P. 28.1(a); Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§ 51.016 (West 2015).
we review a trial court's decision to grant or deny a
motion to compel arbitration under an abuse of discretion
standard." Enter. Field Servs., LLC v. TOC-Rocky
Mountain, Inc., 405 S.W.3d 767, 773 (Tex. App.-Houston
[1st Dist.] 2013, pet. denied). Under this standard, we defer
to a trial court's factual determinations if they are
supported by evidence; however, we review a trial court's
legal determinations de novo. In re Labatt Food Serv.,
L.P., 279 S.W.3d 640, 643 (Tex. 2009) (orig.
proceeding). Whether a valid arbitration agreement exists and
whether the arbitration agreement is ambiguous are questions
of law that we review de novo. In re D. Wilson Constr.
Co., 196 S.W.3d 774, 781 (Tex. 2006) (orig. proceeding).
seeking to compel arbitration must establish the existence of
a valid, enforceable arbitration agreement and that the
claims at issue fall within that agreement's scope.
In re Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 166 S.W.3d
732, 737 (Tex. 2005) (orig. proceeding). If the movant
establishes that an arbitration agreement governs the
dispute, the burden shifts to the party opposing arbitration
to establish a defense to the arbitration agreement. In
re Provine, 312 S.W.3d 824, 829 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st
Dist.] 2009, orig. proceeding) (citing In re Oakwood
Mobile Homes, Inc., 987 S.W.2d 571, 573 (Tex. 1999)
(orig. proceeding)). Once the movant established a valid
arbitration agreement covering the claims at issue, a trial
court has no discretion to deny the motion to compel
arbitration unless the opposing party proves a defense to
arbitration. Id. (citing In re FirstMerit Bank,
N.A., 52 S.W.3d 749, 753-54 (Tex. 2001) (orig.
state and federal policies favor arbitration, courts must
resolve any doubts about an arbitration agreement's scope
in favor of arbitration. In re FirstMerit Bank,
N.A., 52 S.W.3d at 753. To be subject to arbitration,
the "allegations need only be factually intertwined with
arbitrable claims or otherwise touch upon the subject matter
of the agreement containing the arbitration provision."
In re B.P. Am. Prod. Co., 97 S.W.3d 366, 371 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2003, orig. proceeding). However,
no presumption of arbitrability arises until the court has
found there is an enforceable arbitration agreement. In
re Jebbia, 26 S.W.3d 753, 756-57 (Tex. App.-Houston
[14th Dist.] 2000, orig. proceeding).
first ten issues, appellant makes numerous arguments to show
that the trial court abused its discretion by denying
appellant's motion to compel arbitration and stay
litigation proceedings. Among the arguments made by appellant
on appeal are that a valid arbitration agreement exists; that
Velasco's claims fit within the scope of the agreement;
that consideration exists to support the agreement; and that
the Federal Arbitration Act applies to this agreement. At the
outset, we ...