Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso
MARIA G. GUILLEN-CHAVEZ, Appellant,
READYONE INDUSTRIES, INC., Appellee.
from the 327th District Court of El Paso County, Texas (TC#
McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Palafox, JJ.
T. RODRIGUEZ, JUSTICE
appeal, Maria Guillen-Chavez asserts that the trial court
erred by entering a judgment confirming an arbitrator's
award where the arbitrator was allegedly not selected
pursuant to the terms of a purported agreement between her
and her employer, ReadyOne Industries. Specifically,
Guillen-Chavez maintains that counsel for ReadyOne consented
on the record at a hearing to using a local El Paso County
arbitrator to resolve a non-subscriber negligence dispute,
thereby creating a Rule 11 agreement on the issue. However,
the trial court eventually appointed an out-of-town
arbitrator after the parties could not agree on a mutually
acceptable local arbitrator.
asks this Court to vacate the arbitrator's award and
remand to the trial court with instructions to appoint a
local arbitrator. We will grant this requested relief.
not the Court's first time wading into this now more than
nearly seven-year-long arbitration fight. At this stage of
litigation, the parties essentially agree that a motion to
compel arbitration exists; the dispute now is over who can
arbitrate this claim.
of background, ReadyOne contends that Guillen-Chavez signed
an agreement to arbitrate claims against the company. The
ReadyOne arbitration agreement has an English language
version and a Spanish language version. Guillen-Chavez
allegedly signed the Spanish version. The arbitrator identity
issue in this case arises because there is a discrepancy
between the English and Spanish language versions of the
arbitration agreement. The English version referred
arbitration to Judicial Workplace Arbitration, Inc., whereas
the Spanish version that bears Guillen-Chavez's purported
signature stated that arbitration would be handled by the
non-existent firm Judicial Workforce Arbitration, Inc.
May 10, 2013, hearing, the trial court stated that it would
grant the motion to compel arbitration, and ReadyOne stated
it would submit a proposed order naming "JWA" as
the arbitrator. Guillen-Chavez refused to approve the
proposed order as to substance and form, leading ReadyOne to
file a motion for entry of order. At the entry of order
hearing, Guillen-Chavez contended that the Spanish language
arbitration agreement required arbitration before an entity
that did not exist, and she argued that entering an order
naming an out-of-town arbitrator would be unjust. The
following colloquy ensued in open court, with the portions
that Guillen-Chavez maintains show a mutual agreement
vis-à-vis arbitrator selection bolded and italicized:
MR. ACOSTA: This Court has held us to what the actual
language of the agreement says. Judicial Workforce
Arbitrators, Inc. it doesn't exist. So we've agreed
to arbitrate [with] an entity that doesn't exist.
So as far as any fairness or equitable concerns that we have,
I don't think they can force us to arbitrate a place out
of town that we don't feel we ever agreed to. And they
don't even have the correct entity on the order. What we
propose, Judge, and I think what was allowed under the rules
is the Court uses discretion and appoints an arbitrator
locally here in town who will if the Court is compelling us
to arbitrate that we both can agree to. I don't think
it's fair that we should be allowed to arbitrate from out
of town firm that we never agreed to. The Defense is trying
to shove down our throat and put it on [the] order. We've
never even heard or seen this thing before. So we'd ask
the Court to exercise its discretion in appointing a local
arbitrator to do the arbitration if that's what the Court
is seeking us to do.
THE COURT: Mr. Hughes.
MR. HUGHES: Yeah, I would suspect that maybe this entity
changed it's name. I'm not for sure. Your Honor,
we would agree to go with a local arbitrator. And I say
this with reluctance because we had another case where we
went before a local arbitrator, finished the arbitration and
then we had trouble getting the agreement or the
arbitrator's award enforce[d] because the local
arbitrator had disclosed every case they had done with the
different firms even though the Scherr Legate Firm was
involved in some of those other cases. So we've always
been a little reluctant. Reluctantly in two respects because
we like using local arbitrators. We like keeping things in
On the other hand, if there's going to be something
that's going to -- we go through arbitration and suddenly
it doesn't stick, we don't like to leave that sitting
around. But in this case we will agree on both of those
to use [a] local entity if we can agree to you know say to a
local arbitration if that's okay with you guys.
MR. ISAAC: That's fine, Judge. I mean I guess the
process to them there's a proposal of different
arbitrators name. If we can't agree, the Court appoint[s]
one based off our selection.
THE COURT: How many arbitrators do we have, two?
MR. HUGHES: Yeah, there's -- yeah, there's three
or four I guess. It's pretty straight forward, yes, Your
THE COURT: Okay. And how many speak Spanish? One probably.