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.

Dominguez v. Eichner

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

June 26, 2018

BEN DOMINGUEZ, II, Appellant
v.
KENNETH D. EICHNER, P.C., Appellee

          On Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No. 4 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 1073076

          Panel consists of Justices Higley, Brown, and Caughey.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Laura Carter Higley Justice

         Kenneth D. Eichner, P.C. filed suit against Ben Dominguez, II for money owed for accounting services. The trial court ordered the parties to arbitrate their dispute. The trial court subsequently signed a judgment confirming the arbitration award. In three issue, Dominguez argues (1) the arbitration agreement was substantively unconscionable, (2) the trial court erred by not vacating the award, and (3) Eichner, P.C. was not authorized to recover attorneys' fees.

         We affirm.

         Background

         In 2005, Eichner, P.C. signed a contract with Dominguez to prepare tax returns for Dominguez and to provide other tax-related services. The agreement did not have a termination date. In 2013, the parties signed a new agreement. This agreement also did not have a termination date.

         Both agreements contained mandatory arbitration provisions. The 2005 agreement required Dominguez to provide notice of any disputes for charges within two years of the charges. The parties agreed that this notice provision was a condition precedent for seeking arbitration.

         On February 1, 2016, Eichner, P.C. filed suit against Dominguez, alleging Dominguez owed Eichner, P.C. money under the contracts. Dominguez answered and filed a motion to compel arbitration based on the arbitration provisions in both contracts. The following month, Eichner, P.C. also filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court granted Eichner, P.C.'s motion, but struck out language in the proposed order requiring the parties to use the Better Business Bureau for its arbitration.

         A couple of months after the trial court ordered the parties to mediation, Dominguez sought discovery from Eichner, P.C. through the trial proceedings. Eleven days later, Dominguez filed a motion to set aside the order to arbitrate with the trial court. There is no indication in the record that Dominguez set the motion for consideration before the trial court, and the trial court never ruled on the motion.

         After the arbitrator issued an award to Eichner, P.C., Dominguez filed a motion to vacate the award. Instead, the trial court signed a final judgment confirming the arbitration award. The judgment included an award of attorneys' fees incurred by Eichner, P.C. Dominguez filed a motion for new trial, which was overruled by operation of law.

         Standard of Review

         "Texas law renders unconscionable contracts unenforceable." In re Olshan Found. Repair Co., LLC, 328 S.W.3d 883, 892 (Tex. 2010). "The ultimate issue of whether an arbitration agreement is against public policy or unconscionable is a question of law for the court." Royston, Rayzor, Vickery, & Williams, LLP v. Lopez, 467 S.W.3d 494, 499 (Tex. 2015).

         Likewise, appellate courts "review de novo a trial court's decision to confirm or vacate an arbitration award." Denbury Onshore, LLC v. Texcal Energy S. Texas, L.P., 513 S.W.3d 511, 515 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, no pet.). "A party seeking to vacate an arbitration award bears the burden of presenting a complete record that establishes grounds for vacating the award." In re Drobny, No. 01-15-00435-CV, 2016 WL 4537076, at *7 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] Aug. 30, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Statewide Remodeling, Inc. v. Williams, 244 S.W.3d 564, 568 ...


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.