Sunday, October 25, 2009

Supreme Court Clarifies Recent Ruling on Pre-Arbitration Discovery

CAN ANY DISCOVERY BY DONE BEFORE ARBITRATION? Recent Holding Disapproving of Pre-Arbitration Discovery "Reiterated" Perhaps as a noble gesture to a former colleague (Craig Enoch), who is listed as one of eleven (11) attorneys for the real party in interest (O'Connor & Hewitt, Ltd.), the Texas Supreme Court last Friday issued a brief supplemental opinion on motion for re-hearing clarifying that all discovery is not necessarily precluded when a motion to compel arbitration is filed and pending. For undivinable reasons, the original mandamus opinion in IN RE HOUSTON PIPE LINE COMPANY, ET AL (Tex. 2009) is not even cited in the one-page follow-up opinion. See prior post: Pre-Arbitration Discovery Quashed by Texas High Court =============================== In re Houston Pipe Line Company, et al. =============================== Connor complains on rehearing that our opinion may be misinterpreted to foreclose all pre-arbitration discovery in the underlying case because we have vacated the underlying discovery order and directed the trial court to rule on the pending motion to compel arbitration. O'Connor submits that such an interpretation would conflict with the Court's recognition here that pre-arbitration discovery is permissible when a trial court needs additional information to make its determination regarding the scope of the arbitration provision or other issues of arbitrability. We reiterate that the discovery order below was overbroad and must be vacated, but that the trial court retains discretion to order limited discovery on issues of scope or arbitrability, if necessary. We further reiterate that motions to compel arbitration and any reasonable discovery should be resolved without delay. O'Connor's motion for rehearing is overruled. OPINION DELIVERED: October 23, 2009. REPRESENTATIVES FOR THIS PARTY: O'Connor & Hewitt, Ltd.
Mr. Thomas J. Sims
Mr. Timothy S. Perkins
Mr. James W. Cole
Mr. William F. Seerden
Mr. Ronald B. Walker
Mr. Gilberto Hinojosa
Mr. Craig T. Enoch
Ms. Melissa Prentice Lorber
Mr. Neel Alan Choudhury
Mr. Stanley B. Binion
Mr. Alex S. Valdes
LINKS FOR ORIGINAL OPINION ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS AND RELATED CASE INFORMATION FOR In Re Houston Pipe Line Co., L.P. (Tex. 2009), No. 08-0800 (Tex. Jul. 3, 2009) (per curiam) (arbitration mandamus) (trial court ordered to rule on motion to compel arbitration, and to vacate pre-arbitration discovery orders determined by the supreme court to be overbroad) THE GIST: At issue in this proceeding is whether the trial court abused its discretion by permitting discovery on damage calculations and other potential defendants, instead of deciding the motion to compel arbitration. For the reasons below, we conclude the trial court should not have ordered pre-arbitration discovery, but rather should have decided the motion to compel arbitration. ... [W]e conditionally grant the writ and direct the trial court to vacate the discovery order and to rule on the motion to compel arbitration. IN RE HOUSTON PIPE LINE COMPANY, L.P., ET AL.; from Victoria County; 13th district (13-07-00299-CV & 13-07-00362-CV, [interlocutory appeal and mandamus petition] 269 SW3d 90, 08-26-08 Opinion of the Thirteenth Court of Appeals by Chief Justice Rogelio Valdez denying mandamus relief) stay order issued October 17, 2008, lifted Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 52.8(c), without hearing oral argument, the Texas Supreme Court conditionally grants the petition for writ of mandamus. Get this Per Curiam Opinion [4 pages in pdf] E-Briefs in IN RE HOUSTON PIPE LINE CO., LP d/b/a HOUSTON PIPE LINE CO.

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