If you really want to arbitrate your construction dispute pursuant to your contract, DO NOT file a lawsuit without at least contemporaneously moving to stay the lawsuit and compel arbitration. Otherwise your right to arbitration will be waived. The determination as to whether a party waived their right to arbitrate is a determination for the court (not the arbitrator) as demonstrated in the non-construction case of Cassedy, Jr. v. Hofmann, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D2450a (1st DCA 2014).
In this case, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against their stockbroker that they voluntarily dismissed without prejudice years later. The plaintiffs then initiated arbitration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The defendant filed a lawsuit to prevent the arbitration from going forward arguing that the plaintiffs waived their right to arbitration by initiating the lawsuit that they subsequently dismissed. The First District Court of Appeals held the trial court must conclude whether a party waived their right to arbitrate by acting inconsistently with the right to arbitrate a dispute. The First District did not decide whether the right to arbitration had been waived; however, considering the plaintiffs filed the very lawsuit that they subsequently dismissed, it would appear that this right was waived or should be deemed waived. If the plaintiffs really wanted to arbitrate, they should not have first filed a lawsuit without preserving their right to arbitrate through a contemporaneous motion to stay the lawsuit and compel arbitration.
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