shutterstock_348755237Does your construction contract require you to arbitrate (instead of litigate) disputes arising out of the contract?  If so, and you want to arbitrate, you do NOT want to do anything inconsistent or adverse with your right to arbitrate. Arbitration can be waived and you do not want arbitration to be waived if you believe this is the best forum to resolve your construction dispute.  For instance, actively participating in a lawsuit through the prosecution or defense of issues in the lawsuit is certainly inconsistent with your right to arbitrate.  This will result in a waiver of your right to compel arbitration.  


In a non-construction dispute—a dispute involving a law firm and its former partner—the law firm sued the partner.  Chaikin v. Parker Waichman LLP, 42 Fla. L. Weekly D2165b (Fla. 2d DCA 2017).  There was a partnership agreement that required disputes to be resolved by arbitration.  The law firm sued the partner claiming he violated a previously entered employment agreement that did not require arbitration.   When the partner counterclaimed, the law firm claimed that the counterclaim must be compelled to arbitration because the counterclaim arose out of the partnership agreement that required arbitration.  Guess what?  The trial court actually compelled the counterclaim to arbitration!  Crazy!  Clearly, any employment agreement and partnership agreement were intertwined such that the dispute would involve the same set of facts and any claims would have a significant relationship to the partnership agreement. 


On appeal, the Second District recognized this craziness and the significant relationship between any claims under an employment agreement and those under the partnership agreement:


[A] significant relationship is described to exist between an arbitration provision and a claim if there is a “contractual nexus” between the claim and the contract. A contractual nexus exists between a claim and a contract if the claim presents circumstances in which the resolution of the disputed issue requires either reference to, or construction of, a portion of the contract. More specifically, a claim has a nexus to a contract and arises from the terms of the contract if it emanates from an inimitable duty created by the parties’ unique contractual relationship.

Chaikin quoting Olson v. Fla. Living Options, Inc., 210 So.3d 107, 111 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) 


Accordingly, the Second District held: what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  The law firm, by filing suit notwithstanding the arbitration provision in the partnership agreement, waived its right to compel arbitration of the counterclaim.  Chaikin, supra (explaining that the law firm initiating the lawsuit was adverse to its contention that its former partner’s counterclaims, predicated upon the same partnership agreement, be compelled to arbitration).  Do not waive your right to arbitrate (unless you want to!).  


Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.


imagesAs you know from prior postings, arbitration is a creature of contract.  Hence, if you want your disputes to be resolved through arbitration, as opposed to litigation, make sure to include an arbitration provision in your agreement that covers all disputes arising out of or relating to the agreement


Under certain circumstances, a non-signatory to an agreement wants to invoke an arbitration clause in the agreement.   The non-signatory will move to compel a signatory to the agreement (with an arbitration provision) to arbitrate a dispute with the non-signatory.  Can a non-signatory do this?   Yes, under certain circumstances. 


This issue was raised by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling in Kroma Makeup EU, LLC v. Boldface Licensing + Branding, Inc., 845 F.3d 1351 (11th Cir. 2017).   In this case, a defendant moved to compel arbitration based on a licensing agreement it was not a party too.  The Eleventh Circuit explained that Florida’s doctrine of equitable estoppel gives a non-signatory an argument in certain circumstances that it can invoke an arbitration provision in a contract it is not a signatory too:


Under that doctrine [of equitable estoppel], a defendant who is a non-signatory to an agreement containing an arbitration clause can force arbitration of a signatory’s claims when “the signatory … must rely on the terms of the written agreement in asserting its claims against the nonsignatory.…” A non-signatory, however, cannot invoke the doctrine to compel arbitration of claims that are not within the scope of the arbitration clause. Equitable estoppel does not allow a nonsignatory to an agreement to alter and expand an arbitration clause that would not otherwise cover the claims asserted.

Kroma Makeup, supra, (internal citations omitted). 


This ultimately means the non-signatory must show 1) the signatory is relying on the underlying contract (with the arbitration provision) to assert claims and 2) the scope of the arbitration provision in the contract covers the dispute.  The non-signatory news to show both to compel arbitration.


In Kroma Makeup, although the defendant was being sued based on issues relating to the underlying contract, the arbitration provision in the contract stated that “the Parties agree that the disputes arising between them concerning the validity, interpretation, termination or performance” of the Agreement will be arbitrated.”  However, the defendant was not a “party” to the agreement; thus, the scope of the arbitration provision did not cover the dispute at-issue.


Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.