Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
James Clinton COYLE, Janice Presley Coyle a/k/a Janice Presley, and Cody Presley, Appellants
COYLE FAMILY FARM, INC., Coyle Farms Partnership, Mike Coyle, Doug Coyle, Tim Coyle, and Tom Tompkins, Appellees
the 38th Judicial District Court, Medina County, Texas Trial
Court No. 17-12-24620-CV Honorable H. Paul Canales, Judge
Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice, Beth Watkins, Justice,
Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice
A. Rodriguez, Justice
James Clinton Coyle, Janice Presley Coyle a/k/a Janice
Presley, and Cody Presley appeal the trial court's Order
Confirming Arbitration Award as Final Judgment of the Court.
The appellants raise two issues asserting they were not given
twenty-one days' notice of the hearing on the
appellees' motion to compel arbitration or forty-five
days' notice of the arbitration hearing. We affirm the
trial court's judgment.
15, 2015, James Clinton Coyle and the appellees entered into
a mediated settlement agreement ("MSA") which
settled three pending lawsuits primarily relating to 764
acres of land owned by Coyle Family Farm, Inc.
("CFFI"). Under the terms of the MSA, Coyle was to
be paid $714, 781 primarily in exchange for his conveyance of
all of his shares of stock in CFFI to the other shareholders.
In addition, Coyle agreed he and his wife, Janice Presley
Coyle, would vacate the mobile home in which they lived which
was located on CFFI's property no later than December 31,
2015. Paragraph 17.3 of the MSA provided any disputes
concerning the agreement would first be submitted to
mandatory mediation then, in the event mediation was not
successful, to binding arbitration.
December 19, 2017, the appellees filed the underlying lawsuit
asserting various claims, including a motion to compel
mediation and arbitration under the terms of the MSA. On
January 12, 2018, the appellees filed a motion for
declaratory judgment regarding mandatory mediation and
arbitration requesting an order mandating Coyle to
participate in mediation and arbitration under the terms of
the MSA. The appellees' motion was set for a hearing on
January 24, 2018.
January 24, 2018, the trial court initially overruled
Coyle's verbal motion for a continuance. The trial court
then conducted an evidentiary hearing. At the conclusion of
the hearing, the trial court signed an order granting the
appellees' motion and ordering Coyle to engage in
mediation on February 10, 2018, and, if unsuccessful, binding
arbitration on February 16, 2018.
the mediation was unsuccessful, an arbitration hearing was
held on February 16, 2018. On February 22, 2018, the
arbitrator signed a final award. The award recites the
arbitrator advised all participants in writing on January 25,
2018, that the final arbitration hearing was scheduled for
February 16, 2018.
23, 2018, the appellees filed a motion to confirm the
arbitration award. Although an objection was filed to the
motion, the appellants did not file a motion to vacate the
award. On May 31, 2018, the trial court held a hearing and
granted the motion, confirming the arbitration award as the
final judgment of the court.
of Hearing on Motion to Compel
their first issue, the appellants contend the trial court
erred in "essentially order[ing] a de facto summary
disposition hearing without adhering to the twenty-one (21)
day notice requirement of Rule 166(a) of the Texas Rules of
Civil Procedure." Thus, the appellants equate the
appellees' motion for declaratory judgment regarding
mandatory mediation and arbitration to a motion for summary
171.021 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code
("Code") governs proceedings to compel arbitration.
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 171.021. If a
party opposing a motion to compel denies the existence of the
agreement, the trial court must "summarily determine
that issue" and order arbitration if it finds such an
agreement exists. Id. § 171.021(b); see
also Gunda Corp., LLC v. Yazhari, No. 14-12-00263-CV,
2013 WL 440577, at *2 n.1 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.]
Feb. 5, 2013, no pet.) (noting Texas procedure controls the
determination of arbitrability even if the Federal
Arbitration Act applies). Under section 171.021, the trial
court makes its decision on arbitrability using "summary
proceedings" which have a shifting burden similar to a
summary judgment proceeding. In re Jim Walter Homes,
Inc., 207 S.W.3d 888, 896-97 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 2006, orig. proceeding); Nabors Drilling USA, LP
v. Carpenter, 198 S.W.3d 240, 246 (Tex. App.-San Antonio
2006, no pet.). Unlike a summary judgment proceeding,
however, an evidentiary hearing is required before the trial
court may rule on the motion if a material issue of fact is
raised. Compare In re Jim Walter Homes, Inc., 207
S.W.3d at 897 (noting evidentiary hearing required if
material fact issue raised) and Nabors Drilling
USA, LP, 198 S.W.3d at 246 (same) with Tex. R.
Civ. P. 166a (prohibiting oral testimony at a summary
judgment hearing and allowing summary judgment to be granted
only if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact).
Therefore, we hold a motion to compel is not the equivalent
of a summary judgment motion but is simply a pre-trial motion
which does not require twenty-one days' notice under rule
166a. See Lucchese Boot Co. v. Licon, 388 S.W.3d
365, 374-75 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2012, no pet.) (holding motion
to compel is a pre-trial matter); Texas La Fiesta Auto
Sales, LLC v. Belk, 349 S.W.3d 872, 882-83 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, no pet.) (rejecting argument
that trial court deprived appellants of reasonable notice by
conducting an evidentiary hearing on a motion to compel and
resolving issue set for a later summary judgment hearing).
Furthermore, we construe appellees' motion for
declaratory judgment regarding mandatory mediation and
arbitration as the equivalent of a motion to compel because
it seeks the same relief. See Bos v. Smith, 556
S.W.3d 293, 306 (Tex. 2018) (noting courts liberally construe
pleadings in the pleader's favor). Accordingly, because
rule 166a did not require twenty-one days' notice of the
hearing on the appellees' motion to compel arbitration,
the appellants' first issue is overruled.