United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
DR. ERIC J. HALL, JR., DDS, PA and DR. ERIC J. HALL, JR., DDS, Plaintiff,
AFFORDABLE CARE, LLC f/k/a AFFORDABLE CARE, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Compel
Arbitration and Motion to Stay Pending the Outcome of the
Arbitration (“Motion to Compel”) (Dkt. #9) and
Defendant's Opposed Motion to Stay Discovery
(“Motion to Stay Discovery”) (Dkt. #17).
considered the motions, the Court finds that Defendant's
Motion to Compel should be GRANTED and its
Motion to Stay Discovery should be DENIED as
Eric J. Hall, Jr., DDS (“Dr. Hall”) is a dentist
licensed to practice dentistry in Texas. Plaintiff Dr. Eric
J. Hall Jr., DDS, PA (“the PC, ” and together
with Dr. Hall, “Plaintiffs”) is Dr. Hall's
Affordable Care, LLC f/k/a Affordable Care, Inc.
(“ACI” or “Defendant”) is not
licensed to practice dentistry but provides administrative
and business support services to dental practices across the
country, including several dental practices in Texas.
2015, ACI allegedly solicited Dr. Hall and proposed to
provide certain services for the PC. In particular, ACI
allegedly promised to provide the PC with the following: (1)
financial and accounting management; (2) human resources and
benefits administration; (3) marketing and patient services;
(4) recruitment and staffing; (5) centralized purchasing
contracting; (6) education and training; (7) information
technology; (8) operations support; and (9) real estate and
facility management. Under this Services Contract, Dr. Hall
would retain full control over all operational aspects of his
dental practice. The Services Contract contains a mandatory
arbitration clause that provides as follows:
Any controversy or dispute between ACI and the PC or the
Practice Owner with respect to the application or
interpretation of the terms of this Agreement, except claims
by ACI for failure of the PC to pay ACI or its affiliate or
the exercise of ACI's rights of eviction or equitable
remedies, will, upon the request or demand of either party,
be resolved exclusively by arbitration in Raleigh, North
Carolina in accordance with the then-existing rules of the
American Arbitration Association applicable to commercial
arbitration. THE PARTIES IRREVOCABLY AND VOLUNTARILY WAIVE
ANY RIGHT THEY MAY HAVE TO A TRIAL BY JURY IN RESPECT OF ANY
DISPUTE RELATING TO OR ARISING OUT OF THIS AGREEMENT.
April 12, 2019, Plaintiffs' attorney sent a letter to ACI
alleging the following:
ACI has breached the [Services] Contract by, among other
things: (1) withholding compensation owed to Dr. Hall under
the Contract; (2) charging unauthorized expenses to the PC;
(3) charging the PC inflated and unauthorized
“fees”; and (4) interfering with the
administration of Dr. Hall's practice.
(Dkt. #9-5). In that letter, Plaintiffs demanded settlement
or they would initiate legal action by April 26, 2019. On
April 18, 2019, ACI provided Plaintiffs with 90 days'
notice of its intent to terminate its relationship with
Plaintiffs without cause pursuant to the Services Contract.
On April 19, 2019, ACI filed a demand for arbitration with
the American Arbitration Association. In response, Plaintiffs
answered the arbitration demand and asserted counterclaims
arising out of the Services Contract, including a claim for
breach of the Services Contract. Specifically, Plaintiffs
asserted counterclaims of breach of contract, exemplary
damages, and attorneys' fees and indemnification.
Plaintiffs then filed this lawsuit on May 7, 2019, asserting
tortious interference and fraudulent inducement claims, which
are based on substantially the same facts as those giving
rise to Plaintiffs' claims currently in arbitration. That
arbitration is pending in Raleigh, North Carolina, styled as
Affordable Care, LLC v. Eric Hall, Jr., DDS and Eric
Hall, Jr., DDS, PA, AAA Case No. 01-19-0001-2194.