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.

Weitzel v. Coon

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

July 30, 2019

DENNIS WEITZEL, Appellants
v.
BRENT COON, INDIVIDUALLY, AND BRENT W. COON, P.C. D/B/A BRENT COON AND ASSOCIATES, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 164th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2018-52828

          Panel consists of Justices Keyes, Kelly, and Goodman.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PETER KELLY JUSTICE.

         Dennis Weitzel filed this interlocutory appeal from the trial court's order denying his motion to compel arbitration. We conclude that the trial court erred by denying the motion. We reverse and remand for proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

         Background

         This case concerns business dealings between attorneys. In 2002, Brent Coon & Associates (BCA) and Dennis Weitzel entered into a referral agreement ("2002 agreement") that outlined the percentage of fees Weitzel and another attorney, Michael T. Gallagher, would receive upon a case's favorable resolution if they referred certain asbestos, mesothelioma, and lung cancer clients to BCA. The letter included an attachment listing several cases to show the source of the referral and the attorney working on the case. Sometime after the agreement, Weitzel joined BCA as an attorney. On February 19, 2010 Weitzel ended his employment with BCA. In April 2010, Weitzel and BCA, similarly sophisticated parties, entered into a separation agreement ("2010 agreement") effective February 19, 2010. The separation agreement, negotiated at arm's length, incorporates four exhibits. The parties agreed to an integration clause, stating that the agreement and its exhibits represent the entire agreement between BCA and Weitzel. The 2010 agreement also contains an arbitration clause. Specifically, BCA and Weitzel agreed that all disputes arising under the 2010 agreement would be resolved by arbitration.

         Coon and BCA's case against Weitzel arose from a dispute about a fee agreement between Michael T. Gallagher and the Gallagher Law Firm PLLC and Coon and BCA. In August 2018, Michael T. Gallagher and The Gallagher Law Firm PLLC sued Coon and BCA alleging breach of the referral agreement between Gallagher and BCA related to certain asbestos, mesothelioma, and lung cancer clients. Gallagher sought declaratory relief and an accounting of the cases subject to the agreement. Coon and BCA filed a third party claim against Dennis Weitzel, asserting causes of action against Weitzel for BCA's alleged overpayment of referral fees to Weitzel, and requested declaratory relief. BCA argued that Weitzel did not forward portions of payments to Gallagher that he received from BCA. Weitzel filed an answer and moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the 2010 agreement executed between Weitzel and BCA. The trial court denied Weitzel's motion to compel arbitration in December 2018, and Weitzel appeals.

         Motion to Compel Arbitration

         Weitzel argues on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion to compel arbitration. Weitzel contends that the 2010 agreement contains a valid, enforceable arbitration agreement and BCA's claims fall within the scope of that agreement.

         A. Standard of Review

         Section 171.098 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code permits the interlocutory appeal of an order denying a motion to compel arbitration. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 171.098. We review interlocutory appeals of orders denying motions to compel arbitration for an abuse of discretion, deferring to the trial court's factual determinations if they are supported by evidence and reviewing questions of law de novo. Cleveland Constr., Inc. v. Levco Constr., Inc., 359 S.W.3d 843, 851-52 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, pet. dism'd).

         B. Analysis

         The parties, who are both attorneys, do not dispute the existence of a 2010 agreement between BCA and Weitzel that has an arbitration clause nor do they dispute the existence of a 2002 agreement between them with no arbitration clause. The dispute is which agreement applies and the extent to which the 2002 agreement was incorporated into the 2010 agreement.

         Weitzel, the movant in the trial court, argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to compel arbitration because the 2010 agreement with an arbitration clause applies. He further alleges that the 2002 agreement was incorporated by reference into the 2010 agreement. BCA responds that the dispute is not ...


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.