Texas Supreme Court Orders Parties to Arbitrate Dispute

/ 05/17/2010

The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that a trial court abused its discretion by refusing to grant a party’s motion to compel arbitration.  In re Odyssey Healthcare, Inc., No. 09-0786 (Tex. May 7, 2010), available at

Guadalupe Morales worked in El Paso for Odyssey Healthcare, Inc.  She sued Odyssey and her supervisor for negligence after sustaining a work-related injury.  Odyssey, in lieu of workers’ compensation insurance, provided workers with an occupational injury benefit plan that required disputes to be resolved by arbitration.  Odyssey moved to compel arbitration.  The trial court denied this motion because it found that the arbitration clause was unconscionable, and the appellate court affirmed this decision. 

On appeal, Morales first argued that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because it would require her to arbitrate in Dallas, causing her to incur substantial expense by producing witnesses in Dallas.  The Court found, however, that the record failed to show any specific evidence about what costs she would incur.  Further, while the clause required the parties to select an arbitrator from a Dallas panel, the arbitrator could choose to arbitrate the matter in a different location or modify the agreement’s cost provision if necessary.  After addressing Morales’ other arguments, the Court directed the trial court to grant Odyssey’s motion to compel arbitration.

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