Judge denies defendants' motion to set aside order granting arbitration

David Yates Apr. 20, 2010, 8:35am

Two defendants named in a personal injury suit will press on without Lark Food Services, which is currently sitting at the arbitration table with the plaintiff.

Bow Tie Servers and Myron Green Corp. had filed a motion to set aside Judge Donald Floyd's order granting a joint motion motion to compel arbitration by Lark and plaintiff Lauretta Fields.

Last March the Southeast Texas Record reported on a lawsuit against Lark filed by Fields, a grocery store employee who alleged she received a severe head injury after she was struck by a falling metal curtain.

Bow Tie and Myron Green were added as defendants after Lark and Fields agreed to arbitrate.

On April 16, a hearing to consider a motion to set aside order granting agreed motion to compel arbitration by Bow Tie and Myron Green was held in Judge Floyd's 172nd District Court.

Although the judge did not craft or sign a written order, he verbally denied the motion on record, a courthouse official told the Record.

Judge Floyd had granted Lark's and Fields' arbitration motion on Aug. 18, 2009. Soon after, Fields amended her petition naming Bow Tie and Myron Green as additional defendants.

Bow Tie and Myron Green responded on Oct. 9 by filing their motion to set aside Judge Floyd's order granting the motion by Fields and Lark to compel arbitration.

If granted, Lark would have been forced to leave the arbitration table and return to the litigation.

During the hearing, Lark argued that Bow Tie and Myron Green are not signatories to the arbitration agreement and therefore have no say.

A signatory is a person, government, or organization that has signed a treaty or contract and is bound by it.

"Plaintiff agreed to arbitrate ... she signed an agreement and continued her employment with Lark with the understanding that any legal claims would be resolved in arbitration rather than court," a response filed by Lark states. "Lark respectfully requests that the court deny the defendants' motion."

Fields is suing for past and future medical expenses, lost wages and mental anguish.

Loren G. Klitsas and Jeanine E. Holoye of Klitsas and Vercher in Houston are representing Fields.

Lark is represented by Victor Corpuz, attorney for the Jackson Lewis law firm.

Case No. E183-632

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