Auto Owners Insurance, Inc. v. Blackmon Insurance Agency, Inc.Annotate this Case
Auto Owners Insurance, Inc. ("Auto Owners"), appealed a circuit court's denial of its motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to compel arbitration in an action against it filed by Blackmon Insurance Agency, Inc. Blackmon served as an agent for Auto Owners since 1995. The agency agreement the parties signed provided for commission to Blackmon for the sale of Auto Owners policies; the agreement also included an arbitration agreement should there be a dispute among them. In 2010, Blackmon filed a complaint in the circuit court seeking a declaratory judgment as to the arbitrability of a dispute between Blackmon and Auto Owners as to which Auto Owners had already initiated arbitration proceedings. In its complaint, Blackmon alleged that Auto Owners had initiated the arbitration proceedings against Blackmon in Eaton County, Michigan. Blackmon also alleged that in the Michigan arbitration proceeding Auto Owners bases its claims on a 2005 document and 2009 supplemental agreement. Auto Owners moved to dismiss, or in the alternative, to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied Auto Owners' motion, and Auto Owners appealed. Upon review of the documents at the heart of this dispute, the Supreme Court concluded the circuit court erred in denying Auto Owners' motion to compel arbitration. The Court therefore reversed the circuit court and remanded the case with instructions that the lower court grant the motion and either issue a stay of these proceedings pending arbitration, or dismiss the case.