Two companies engaged in a legal dispute over a dock were ordered into arbitration on Thursday, Dec. 10, by justices seated on the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Texas.

In August 2008, ISP Water Management filed suit against Texas Petrochemicals (TPC) in Jefferson County District Court.

ISP alleged that TPC was blocking its access to a dock the two companies jointly owned.

Court papers show that in May 2005, the dock in question was struck by a vessel and severely damaged.

ISP says TPC took it upon itself to rebuild the dock in 2007, and therefore ISP refused TPC's request to pay a proportionate share of the expenses incurred in rebuilding the dock.

After TPC completed its work on the dock, TPC apparently excluded ISP from dock access and took the position that ISP had forfeited its interest, court papers say.

In March 2009, TPC filed a motion requesting that Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, order the dispute to arbitration in accordance with an agreement between the companies, court papers say.

After the hearing, Sanderson denied TPC's motion, leading the company to appeal his decision.

On appeal, TPC contended Judge Sanderson erred, arguing that the companies had signed an agreement that stated any disputes would be settled by one or more arbitrators under the rules of the American Arbitration Association.

"We are asked to determine whether the trial court erred in refusing to compel arbitration," states an appeals opinion authored by Justice Hollis Horton.

"Because the claims that ISP advanced regarding the partition of the property rely on the contract and are factually intertwined with ISP's claims that TPC breached the contract, we hold that ISP's claims are within the scope of the parties' arbitration agreement. Therefore, the trial court erred in denying TPC's motion to compel arbitration."

All other legal proceedings on the matter have been stayed by justices, pending the outcome of the arbitration.

ISP is represented in part by Barrett Reasoner, an attorney for the Gibbs & Burns law firm.

TCP is represented in part by attorneys H. Victor Thomas, C. Brannon Robertson and Perry Neichoy.

Trial case No. B182-241

Appeals case No. 09-09-00168-CV

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