Coughlin Appellate Victory

George Coughlin recently received an appellate victory from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, for Dysart Taylor client Tarmac International, Inc. Tarmac had been sued in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri by its former employee Steve Latenser for breach of his employment contract. The contract contained an arbitration clause which provided that all disputes arising under the employment agreement had to be resolved by arbitration in accordance with the Commercial Rules of the American Arbitration Association. Coughlin raised the arbitration clause in response to the lawsuit, asserting that the trial court lacked jurisdiction by virtue of the clause; he moved to stay the lawsuit and to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion to compel, concluding that the clause was invalid. Coughlin appealed. Coughlin argued to the Appeals Court that the trial court erred because, among other things, the arbitration clause’s incorporation of the AAA’s Commercial Rules delegated to the arbitrator threshold issues of arbitrability, including issues as to the validity, enforcement, application or formation of the clause. The Appeals Court agreed, reversed the ruling by the trial court and directed Latenser to submit his claims to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration clause.



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