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Ari-Armaturen USA, LP v. CSI International, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

April 2, 2019

ARI-ARMATUREN USA, LP, AND ARI MANAGEMENT, INC., Appellants
v.
CSI INTERNATIONAL, INC., Appellee

          On Appeal from the 215th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2017-52127

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Hassan, and Poissant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MARGARET "MEG" POISSANT JUSTICE

         This appeal arises from the trial court's denial of a motion filed by ARI Ari-Armaturen USA, LP, and ARI Management, Inc., (collectively "ARI") to compel arbitration against CSI International, Inc. ("CSI"). For the reasons stated below, we decline CSI's request to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction and determine the trial court erred by denying ARI's motion to compel.

         Background

         In 2010, four agreements were executed on the same day in furtherance of one goal - for ARI to create an industrial spring-operated safety relief valve that matched the quality of a valve manufactured by CSI. Those agreements were a Partnership Agreement, an Independent Consulting Agreement, an Equipment Lease, and Building Lease. In 2013, a Redemption, Settlement and Release Agreement was also executed.

         ARI filed suit in county court seeking title to the equipment ARI had been leasing from CSI under the Equipment Lease. The judgment from that suit is not in our record.

         Subsequently, CSI filed suit in district court seeking damages over $2, 000, 000 on the grounds that ARI breached the Equipment Lease by failing to return the equipment. ARI moved to stay litigation and compel arbitration. CSI responded to the motion, and ARI replied. CSI then amended its petition, adding a claim under the Theft Liability Act, and filed a sur-response. Following a non-evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion to compel.

         Jurisdiction

         We first address CSI's claim asserting the appeal should be dismissed for want of jurisdiction, because it is an appeal from an order reconsidering an order denying ARI's motion to compel arbitration and stay litigation. ARI filed one motion to compel arbitration. On January 11, 2018, the trial court signed an "ORDER DENYING ARBITRATION STAY." The order states:

         ORDER DENYING ARBITRATION STAY

         ON THIS DAY CAME TO BE CONSIDERED [ARI's] Motion to Compel Arbitration. The Court finds that there is insufficient proof that parties entered in a valid contract requiring mandatory arbitration.

         The Court finds that the Motion is without merit.

         IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED . . . that [ARI's] Motion for ...


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