Thursday, May 24, 2012

Contract Law governs Rule 11 Settlement Agreements

  
VALIDITY AND ENFORCEABILITY OF AGREEMENTS UNDER TRCP 11 (Tex. R. Civ. P. 11)

The rule the Rule Eleven Agreement takes its name from: Tex. R. Civ. P. 11

General Metal Fabricating Corporation v Stergiou (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] May 24, 2012)
  
OPINION EXCERPT
 
Contract law governs agreements made in open court pursuant to rule 11. Ronin v. Lerner, 7 S.W.3d 883, 886 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1999, no pet.). A contract is legally binding only if its terms are sufficiently definite to enable a court to understand the parties’ obligations. See Fort Worth Indep. Sch. Dist. v. City of Fort Worth, 22 S.W.3d 831, 846 (Tex. 2000).“ Each contract should be considered separately to determine its material terms.” T.O. Stanley Boot Co., Inc. v. Bank of El Paso, 847 S.W.2d 218, 221 (Tex. 1992). Although the contract’s material terms must be agreed upon before a court may enforce the contract, a binding settlement contract may exist even if the parties contemplate that a more formal document memorializing their agreement will be executed at a later date. See City of Fort Worth, 22 S.W.3d at 846; Foreca, S.A. v. GRD Dev. Co., 758 S.W.2d 744, 745-46 (Tex. 1988); see also McLendon v. McLendon, 847 S.W.2d 601, 606-07 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1992, writ denied) (“[T]he attempts by the parties to reduce the rule 11 stipulations to writing do not affect the nature and effect of the stipulations dictated at the [hearing in open court.]”).When an agreement leaves material matters open for future adjustment and agreement on the additional matters never occurs, however, the agreement is not binding upon the parties. City of Fort Worth, 22 S.W.3d at846.
Whether the rule11 agreement is an enforceable settlement agreement—or whether it fails forlack of an essential term—is a question of law. See Ronin, 7 S.W.3d at 888; see also Martin v. Martin, 326 S.W.3d 741, 746 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2010, pet. denied) (“The question of whether an agreement is an unenforceable agreement to agree is a question of law, not a question for the jury.”).The parties’ intent to be bound, however, generally is a question of fact. See Herring v. Herron Lakes Estates Owners Ass’n, Inc., No. 14-09-00772-CV, 2011 WL 2739517, at *3 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Jan. 4, 2011, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Foreca, 758 S.W.2d at 746).We may determine the issue as a matter of law only if an unambiguous writing shows that the parties intended to be bound by the agreement. Herring, 2011 WL 2739517 at *3 (citing Padilla v. LaFrance, 907 S.W.2d 454, 461-62 (Tex. 1995)).

SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - 01-11-00460-CV – 5/25/12 
CASE STYLE: GeneralMetal Fabricating Corporation, GMF Leasing, Inc., and Arnold Curry vs.  John Stergiou and Main Marine RepairIndustrial Cleaning Company 

We begin by noting that nothing in the rule 11 agreement indicates the parties did not intend to be bound. Like most settlement agreements, the rule 11 agreement included essential terms for the payment of money in exchange for the performance of some act: Stergiou would return his shares of the GMF Companies’ stock, Curry would pay $300,000, and together the parties would dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. See Padilla, 907 S.W.2d at 460-61 (noting that material terms of rule 11 settlement agreement include payment and release of claims); see also CherCo Props., Inc. v. Law, Snakard & Gambill, P.C., 985 S.W.2d 262, 266 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1999, no pet.) (holding settlement agreement that included terms of payment and statement that parties would execute mutual releases contained all material terms).The rule 11 agreement further detailed when the stock would be returned (“upon payment of the $20,000 down payment . . . and the execution of all documents necessary to provide the security described therein”), how and when the money would be paid (in the form of a “promissory note” with “$20,000 of principal . . . paid on or before May 3, 2006” and monthly installments of $4,000 thereafter), the interest that would accrue (“6.5% per annum”), and the nature of the collateral (“all furniture, fixtures, equipment, receivables (from the ordinary course of business), inventory, and real property owned by the GMF Companies known [as] (the White Buildings and the empty lot) (excluding the four lots the ‘Blue Building’ resides upon and the ‘Blue Building’”)).See T.O. Stanley Boot Co., 847 S.W.2d at 221 (noting that material terms of contract to loan money are amount to be loaned, maturity date of loan, interest rate, and repayment terms).
We acknowledge that the rule 11 agreement required the parties to execute a promissory note, a deed of trust, a security agreement, and a financing statement, and that, as an affidavit included in Stergiou’s summary judgment evidence suggests, the “forms” for those documents include certain standard provisions for things like collateral descriptions; defaults; inspection rights; insurance, maintenance, and repair of collateral; and prepayment of the debt. However, to the extent these particular provisions are missing from the rule 11 agreement, the two cases on which Stergiou primarily relies do not persuade us that those provisions were essential to an enforceable settlement of this case.[4]See Martin, 326 S.W.3d at 741; see also DKH Homes, LP v. Kilgo, No. 03-10-00656-CV, 2011 WL 1811435, at *3-4 (Tex. App.—Austin May 11, 2011, no pet.) (mem. op.).

In Martin, two brothers had a dispute over the management of their closely-held corporation.326 S.W.3d at 743.In an effort to settle their dispute over “corporate control,” the brothers reached a “settlement agreement” that, among other things, required them to negotiate a shareholder agreement. Id. at 743-44.They never agreed as to the terms of the shareholder agreement. The court of appeals concluded that their settlement was not an enforceable agreement because the to-be-negotiated shareholder agreement “would be the foundational document of [the company] and would define the [brothers’] rights vis-à-vis each other and [the company].”Id. at 754.Here, the additional documents do not have the same “foundational” importance to the underlying dispute. The essence of Stergiou and Curry’s rule 11 agreement is the promise to pay $300,000in exchange for the return of the GMF Companies’ stock and the dismissal of the lawsuit. Although the rule 11 agreement requires Curry to make installment payments for a number of years, it does not require Stergiou and Curry to have a relationship akin to the parties in Martin, who continued to be involved in the operation of the same closely-held corporation.
In Kilgo, a homebuilder alleged that the Kilgos failed to comply with a contractual obligation to build a new home.2011 WL 1811435, at *1.The court of appeals determined that the parties’ agreement did not include terms essential to a contract for the construction of a new home. Id. at *3.The agreement did not include any information defining the undertaking, such as the size of the house contemplated, the price of the house on a per-square-foot or other basis, or the time for completing construction. Id. Here, unlike in Kilgo, the terms that Stergiou asserts are essential—i.e., those terms describing the parties’ obligations to insure, maintain, and repair the collateral, the notice and cure periods for default, and the right of prepayment—do not define the undertaking in the rule 11 agreement to pay for the return of Stergiou’s stock in the GMF Companies.
  
Instead, this case is more analogous to Montanaro v. Montanaro, 946 S.W.2d 428 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 1997, no writ). Montanaro was a suit for an accounting, dissolution of a family-owned partnership, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duties. The parties agreed on the general terms of their settlement, including payment obligations and the release of claims. Id. at 429.The payment obligations were to be secured by a to-be-drafted promissory note, but despite having exchanged drafts, the parties could not agree on the promissory note’s terms. Id. at 431.The court of appeals concluded that the record nevertheless established the essential terms of a settlement agreement because, like Stergiou and the GMF Companies, the parties agreed as to the exact amount of the payments and the period over which they were to be made. Id. “Additional terms regarding overdue, or post-maturity, interest and acceleration upon default were not necessary to enable the parties to comply with the terms of the note, or the underlying settlement agreement.”Id. Likewise here, we conclude that the particular terms of the additional documents were not material and therefore did not destroy the rule 11 agreement’s effectiveness, and we hold that the rule 11 agreement is not an unenforceable “agreement to agree.”
  
To hold otherwise would undermine well-established policy favoring the peaceable resolution of disputes by agreement and would encourage continued litigation of disputes that have already been decided by agreement. See Kennedy v. Hyde, 682 S.W.2d 525, 529 (Tex. 1984) (noting that “[i]n a day of burgeoning litigation and crowded dockets, the amicable settlement of lawsuits is greatly to be desired”). Moreover, the parties behaved as though their settlement was binding. The transcript of the trial court’s proceedings reflects that the parties were entering into a settlement agreement. Stergiou’s counsel dictated the terms of the agreement into the record. Each party, on the record, appeared in open court and expressed under oath that they had reached an agreement, had reviewed and understood its terms, had authority to enter into that agreement, and wished the trial court to approve it. The trial court did so. At no time did either Stergiou or Curry state on the record that the rule 11 agreement was only a preliminary agreement. See Ronin, 7 S.W.3d at 888 (considering lack of statement on record that rule 11 agreement was only preliminary a factor in enforcing the agreement).
  
The timing and circumstances under which the rule 11 agreement was executed also indicate the parties’ intent to be bound. The specific terms of the settlement were contingent on the jury’s verdict. If the rule 11 agreement was only preliminary, and not intended to be final until the details of the additional documents were agreed upon, the party that prevailed before the jury would prefer the “win” over the compromised settlement and would have little incentive to agree to those details. Stergiou did not present any summary judgment evidence establishing that his intent was otherwise. And, after the trial court approved the rule 11 agreement, the parties exchanged drafts of the additional documents contemplated by the rule 11 agreement, and they twice extended the agreed deadline for dismissing the lawsuit in order to continue negotiating the terms of the additional documents.
 
On this record, we overrule Stergiou’s first sub-issue.
  
B.      Definiteness of Terms
   
Stergiou’s next complaint—that the rule 11 agreement cannot be enforced as written—is closely related to the issue already decided. Stergiou contends that the rule 11 agreement cannot be enforced until the additional documents are actually executed, which is not possible because there has not been any agreement as to the terms of those additional documents and a reviewing court cannot supply the terms not agreed upon. That is, a court cannot force Stergiou or Curry to accept one or the other’s version of the additional documents.
  
In support of his contention, Stergiou argues this case is analogous to Nash v. Conatser, 410 S.W.2d 512 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1966, no writ).There, the court observed that specific performance of a contract cannot be ordered when the contract is unenforceable for lack of material terms. Id. at 519-21.We have already disapproved of Stergiou’s assertion that the rule 11 agreement lacked material terms by overruling Stergiou’s first issue, so Nash is not controlling here.
 
Because the rule 11 agreement set out the amounts to be paid for the return of the GMF Companies’ stock and the dismissal of the lawsuit, how those amounts were to be paid and when, and the interest rate, the parties’ obligations are sufficiently defined.We hold that the terms of the rule 11 agreement are not so indefinite so as to preclude its enforcement, and we overrule Stergiou’s second sub-issue.
  
C.      Statute of Frauds
  
Part of the dispute on appeal concerns the description of the security for Curry’s promise to pay Stergiou $300,000 for the return of his stock. The rule 11 agreement provides that the promissory note “will be secured by a first lien Deed of Trust and Security Agreement covering all furniture, fixtures, equipment, receivables (from the ordinary course of business), inventory, and real property owned by the GMF Companies known [as] (the White Buildings and the empty lot) (excluding the four lots the ‘Blue Building’ resides upon and the ‘Blue Building’) of General Metal Fabrication, Inc. and GMF Leasing, Inc.”

Stergiou argues that we should reverse the trial court’s summary judgment and render judgment that the rule 11 agreement is not enforceable because it does not sufficiently describe the real property offered as security. This argument rests on the premise that the rule 11 agreement is a contract for the sale of real estate and thus subject to the statute of frauds. See Tex. Bus. & Comm. Code Ann. § 26.01(b)(4) (West 2009) (statute of frauds).Without deciding whether that premise is sound, we conclude that the rule 11 agreement, together with the writings referenced by it, describes the property in a manner sufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds.
  
The statute of frauds does not require that a complete description of the land to be conveyed appear in a single document. See Padilla, 907 S.W.2d at 460 (holding that series of letters between parties satisfied statute of frauds).A property description is sufficient if the writing furnishes within itself, or by reference to some other existing writing, the means or data by which the particular land to be conveyed may be identified with reasonable certainty. See AIC Mgmt. v. Crews, 246 S.W.3d 640, 645 (Tex. 2008).The description of the land may be obtained from documents that are prepared in the course of the transaction, even if those documents are prepared after the parties’ contract for sale. See Porter v. Reaves, 728 S.W.2d 948, 949 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1987, no writ) (description of land as “1/2 of 20-acre tract” satisfied statute of frauds because location of tract was not disputed, the parties referenced a drawing of the tract in their contract, and seller was required to furnish “current survey” of land after contract was executed); see also Adams v. Abbott, 254 S.W.2d 78, 80 (Tex. 1952) (description furnished by exchange of correspondence between the parties)
  
The GMF Companies’ summary judgment evidence included Curry’s affidavit testimony that they owned three tracts of land, which were commonly referred to as the “Blue Building,” the “White Buildings,” and the “empty lot.”Stergiou’s attorney drafted the rule 11 agreement using those same terms. Although the rule 11 agreement describes the property to be secured by the deed of trust only as the “White Buildings” and “empty lot,” but not “the four lots the ‘Blue Building’ resides upon and the ‘Blue Building,’” the various deeds of trust and the security agreements circulated as drafts between the parties contain sufficient legal descriptions of those properties. The “White Buildings” are described as:
  
Lots Five (5), Six (6), Fifteen (15) and Sixteen (16), in Block Fifty-Four (54), of KING’S COURT, an addition in Harris County, Texas, according to the map of the plat thereof recorded in Volume 7, Page 65 of the Map Records of Harris County, Texas.
 
The “empty lot” is described as:
 
Lots 7, 8, 9 and 10, in Block 54 of KING’S COURT, an addition in Harris County, Texas, according to the map or plat thereof recorded in Volume 7, Page 65 of the Map of Records of Harris County, Texas.
    
These same legal descriptions appear in the drafts prepared by Stergiou and in the drafts prepared by the GMF Companies. Thus, there was no dispute between the parties regarding the identification of the real estate.
For this reason, we hold that the statute of frauds does not bar enforcement of the rule 11 agreement, and we overrule Stergiou’s third sub-issue.
   
Interpretation of the Rule 11 Agreement  
   
Having determined that the rule 11 agreement is enforceable, we now consider whether, as argued by the GMF Companies in their appeal, the agreement authorized Curry to pay the entire amount owed under the agreement at one time In four issues, the GMF Companies contend (1) the rule 11 agreement included a right of prepayment, (2) Curry’s tender of the full $300,000 constituted substantial performance of the rule 11 agreement, (3) by refusing that tender, Stergiou waived his right to interest under the rule 11 agreement, and (4) Stergiou’s failure to mitigate his damages by accepting the tender relieves Curry of any continuing burden to make interest payments. For reasons discussed below, only the GMF Companies’ first issue is properly within the scope of this agreed interlocutory appeal.
   
SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - 01-11-00460-CV – 5/25/12   
CASE STYLE: General Metal Fabricating Corporation, GMF Leasing, Inc., and Arnold Curry vs.  John Stergiou and Main Marine Repair Industrial Cleaning Company   

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Judicial Review of Arbitration Awards under the Texas Arb Act (TGAA aka TAA)

Arbitration awards are sometimes properly overturned by the courts even if grounds for judicial review & appeal are very narrow, as seen in a recent case from Houston arising from a probate dispute.
  
JUDICIAL REVIEW OF ARB AWARDS UNDER THE TEXAS GENERAL ARBITRATION ACT

  
Jones v. Brelsford (Tex.App. -Houston [1st Dist] May 17, 2012) (probate court's order vacating arbitration award affirmed)

EXCERPT FROM OPINION BY JUSTICE HARVEY BROWN
    
Texas law favors the arbitration of disputes. See E. Tex. Salt Water Disposal Co. v. Werline, 307 S.W.3d 267, 271 (Tex. 2010); Brazoria Cnty. v. Knutson, 176 S.W.2d 740, 743 (Tex. 1943) ("Arbitration is a proceeding so favored by Texas law that both our Constitution and statutes provide for the submission of differences to arbitration."). Consequently, judicial review of an arbitration award is extraordinarily narrow and focuses on the integrity of the process, not the propriety of the result. See Women's Reg'l Healthcare, P.A. v. FemPartners of N. Tex., Inc., 175 S.W.3d 365, 367 68 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2005, no pet.); TUCO, Inc. v. Burlington N. R.R. Co.,912 S.W.2d 311, 315 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 1995), modified on other grounds, 960 S.W.2d 629 (Tex. 1997). A reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for the arbitrator's simply because that court would have reached a different result. Royce Homes, L.P. v. Bates, 315 S.W.3d 77, 85 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2010, no pet.).We indulge every reasonable presumption to uphold an arbitrator's decision.New Med. Horizons II, Ltd. v. Jacobson, 317 S.W.3d 421, 428 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2010, no pet.).
  
The parties agree that the Texas General Arbitration Act (TAA) governs this case. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. §§ 171.001 .098 (West 2011). Under the TAA, a court must affirm an arbitration award unless a party establishes one of four statutory bases for vacating the award: (1) the award was procured by fraud, corruption, or other undue means; (2) there was evident partiality, corruption, or willful misconduct by the arbitrator that prejudices the rights of a party; (3) the arbitrator exceeded her power, refused to postpone a hearing on a showing of sufficient cause, or refused to hear material evidence; or (4) "there was no agreement to arbitrate, the issue was not adversely determined in a proceeding under Subchapter B, and the party did not participate in the arbitration hearing without raising the objection."[4]Id. §§ 171.087 .088(a); see Women's Reg'l Healthcare, 175 S.W.3d at 367. Our review of an order vacating an arbitrator's award for any of these reasons is de novo. See Grand Homes 96, L.P. v. Loudermilk, 208 S.W.3d 696, 705 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2006, pet. denied).
  
Order Vacating the Arbitration Award  
Dianna's complaints about the probate court's order vacating the arbitration award are divided into six sub-issues, each addressing a statutory or common-law ground for vacatur asserted by her siblings—Harold, Susanna, John, and Madge— or the grandchildren. We begin with Dianna's sixth sub-issue, which challenges the vacatur grounds asserted by Madge in her motion attacking "the portions of the arbitration award that require Madge to sign over her interests in real estate to Dianna Brelsford and to appear and sign transfer documents."
  
Madge argues that the arbitrator's award divesting her of a property interest in the ranch subjected her to an arbitration to which she did not agree and in which she did not participate. She asserts that, under these circumstances, the probate court properly vacated the award under sections of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code providing for vacatur if the arbitrator exceeded her powers or if there was no agreement to arbitrate. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 171.088(a)(3)(A), (a)(4). Dianna asserts that Madge's complaints about the arbitration award are merely "ministerial" and "not a basis to vacate" because Madge had already agreed to transfer her interests to Harold, Susanna, and John. We disagree with Dianna.
  
We look to the parties' various provisions for dispute resolution to determine the arbitrator's authority to order Madge, a non-participant in the second arbitration, to convey her property interest in the ranch to Dianna instead of Harold, Susanna, and John. See Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations v. Hennig Prod. Co., 164 S.W.3d 438, 443 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, no pet.). Attached to the MSA, which is a global document signed by all of the siblings, the trusts, and the estate, are (1) Dianna'sagreement with Harold, Susanna, and John and (2) Madge's agreement with Harold, Susanna, and John. The MSA and the attached agreements contain different provisions for dispute resolution. The MSA provided "that any dispute as to interpretation of terms of this agreement shall be submitted to binding arbitration. . . ." In the attached agreements, which the parties treat as separate and distinct agreements, Dianna and Madge individually agreed to transfer their interests in family properties, including the ranch, to Harold, Susanna, and John in exchange for payment. They both also agreed to a two-step process in the event of future disputes: "attend a ½ day mediation with Judge Garcia; if no agreement, then Judge Garcia shall serve as arbitrator, and she shall rule in a manner that she believes is fair and just, and her decision is non-appealable and final."
  
Although Dianna's and Madge's individual agreements incorporated nearly identical terms for resolving their disputes with their siblings, Dianna did not sign Madge's agreement with Harold, Susanna, and John, and Madge did not sign Dianna's agreement with Harold, Susanna, and John. Madge is also not a signatory to the agreement entered on the eve of the second arbitration, granting the arbitrator broad authority to decide "any and all issues and/or disputes related to the above causes of action and any and all issues or disputes with regard to any mediation agreement and/or settlement agreement." Only Harold, Susanna, John, and Dianna signed that agreement. Thus, the only agreement to arbitrate signed by both Dianna and Madge is the agreement to submit to arbitration "any dispute as to interpretation of terms of" the MSA between the siblings, the trusts, and the estate.
  
Considering the written submissions to the arbitrator, we note that Madge did not have a dispute with either Dianna or her other siblings "as to interpretation of terms" of their settlement agreement with the trusts and the estate, and Dianna did not allege any such dispute with Madge. In fact, Dianna did not allege any dispute with Madge or any dispute as to the MSA between the siblings, the trusts, and the estate. Although she requested an award of the entire ranch, Dianna's written submission focused exclusively on Harold, Susanna, and John's non-performance and alleged fraudulent inducement of her individual settlement agreement with them. The arbitrator specifically noted in the award that Madge did not participate in the second arbitration because she had settled her disputes with Harold, Susanna, and John. The arbitrator found that "an award of 100% of [the ranch] to Dianna is a partition in kind for her debt under the MSA, for actual and punitive damages from the intentional and repeated breaches of the MSA by Harold, Susanna, and John in the breaches described here." The breaches described in the arbitration award related to breaches of Dianna's settlement with Harold, Susanna, and John and no other agreement. To give effect to her award, however, the arbitrator ordered Madge, along with Harold, Susanna, and John, to execute deeds transferring their interests in the ranch to Dianna. No findings were entered against Madge in the award. Nor can we find any evidence in this record that Harold, Susanna, and John paid Madge and therefore were entitled to demand transfer of Madge's interest in the ranch.
 
Even considering the presumptions in favor of arbitration, we agree with Madge that she did not agree to submit to arbitration of disputes arising from Dianna's agreement with Harold, Susanna, and John. The arbitrator could not order Madge, as part of the second arbitration, to transfer her interest in the ranch to Dianna as a consequence of Harold, Susanna, and John's breaches of an agreement to which Madge was not a party because any dispute as to Madge's interest in the ranch was not properly before the arbitrator. We are not persuaded that simply because Madge had already agreed to transfer her interests to Harold, Susanna, and John, an order that she transfer her interests to someone else is inconsequential. The arbitrator's award required Madge to perform an act that contravened her settlement with Harold, Susanna, and John and undermined their obligation to pay Madge under that agreement. We therefore conclude that the probate court correctly vacated that part of the award giving Dianna full ownership of the ranch and ordering Madge to "execute the deeds . . . to transfer full ownership of [the ranch], its cattle and improvements to [Dianna]" under section 171.008(a)(4). See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 171.088(a)(4) (providing for vacatur of arbitration award when "there was no agreement to arbitrate, the issue was not adversely determined in a proceeding under Subchapter B, and the party did not participate in the arbitration hearing without raising the objection").
 
Our conclusion that Madge did not agree to arbitrate the issues decided at the second arbitration is dispositive of this appeal. Although we have held invalid only those parts of the arbitrator's award affecting Madge, the entire award must be set aside because, here, the invalid parts of the award are not "distinct and independent" from the remaining parts of the award. City of Waco v. Kelley, 309 S.W.3d 536, 551 (Tex. 2010) ("In an appeal from an arbitration award, if a portion of the award is invalid, the other portion will be unaffected only if the two parts are so distinct and independent that the valid part will truly express the judgment of the arbitrator. But if an invalid portion is not severable and distinct so that the remaining valid part of the award truly expresses the arbitrator's judgment, the entire award is void."); see Gulf Oil Corp. v. Guidry, 327 S.W.2d 406, 409 (Tex. 1959). The arbitrator determined that it was equitable that Dianna be awarded 100 percent ownership of the ranch in satisfaction of the amounts owed by Harold, Susanna, and John for their breaches of contract and fraud. To affirm the remaining portions of the award ordering Harold, Susanna, and John to convey their interests in the ranch would be to affirm an award to Dianna of less than 100 percent ownership of the ranch. Such an award is less than what the arbitrator determined was equitable and would not "truly express the arbitrator's judgment." See Kelley, 309 S.W.3d at 551. Accordingly, we conclude that the entire arbitration award must be set aside and that a new arbitration hearing must be conducted, and we overrule Dianna's sixth sub-issue.
  
Order Appointing a New Arbitrator 
Our holding in this case will require a rehearing of Dianna's dispute with Harold, Susanna, and John. In her second issue, Dianna contends that the trial court erred in appointing a new arbitrator for the rehearing. See Werline, 307 S.W.3d at 270 74 (allowing appeal when trial court denied confirmation of arbitration award, vacated award, and sent dispute to re-arbitration before new arbitrator). We agree. Section 171.089 permits a court to order rehearing before a new arbitrator upon the vacatur of an award "on grounds other than the grounds stated in Section 171.088(a)(4)." See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 171.089(a). The only grounds for vacatur we affirm are stated in section 171.088(a)(4). Id. § 171.088(a)(4). Consequently, the vacatur of the arbitration award in this case will not support the appointment of a new arbitrator for rehearing. See id. § 171.089(a). We sustain Dianna's second issue.
  
Conclusion
  
We affirm the probate court's order vacating the arbitration award, but we reverse the probate court's order appointing a new arbitrator for the rehearing. This case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. All outstanding motions are denied as moot.
  
SOURCE: FIRST COURT OF APPEALS - HOUSTON - Nos. 01-11-00265-CV, 01-11-00266-CV - 5/17/12 Dianna Jones v. Harold Petsch Brelsford et al