Robertson v. Mount Royal Towers

Annotate this Case
Justia Opinion Summary

Joe Robertson appealed a circuit court order that held his claims against Mount Royal Towers were subject to an arbitration agreement and compelled him to arbitrate those claims. Finding that Robertson had not met his burden of showing that the arbitration agreements he signed were not applicable in this case, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision.

Download PDF
REL: 06/21/2013 Notice: T h i s o p i n i o n i s s u b j e c t t o formal r e v i s i o n b e f o r e p u b l i c a t i o n i n t h e advance s h e e t s o f Southern R e p o r t e r . R e a d e r s a r e r e q u e s t e d t o n o t i f y t h e R e p o r t e r o f D e c i s i o n s , A l a b a m a A p p e l l a t e C o u r t s , 300 D e x t e r A v e n u e , M o n t g o m e r y , A l a b a m a 3 6 1 0 4 - 3 7 4 1 ( ( 3 3 4 ) 2 2 9 ¬ 0 6 4 9 ) , o f a n y t y p o g r a p h i c a l o r o t h e r e r r o r s , i n o r d e r t h a t c o r r e c t i o n s may b e made b e f o r e t h e o p i n i o n i s p r i n t e d i n Southern R e p o r t e r . SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA OCTOBER TERM, 2012-2013 1120291 Joe Robertson v. Mount Royal Towers, a domestic n o n p r o f i t c o r p o r a t i o n Appeal from J e f f e r s o n C i r c u i t (CV-12-900669) STUART, Justice. Joe R o b e r t s o n a p p e a l s t h e o r d e r Court holding domestic Court that h i s claims nonprofit senior-living against corporation facility of the Jefferson that i n Birmingham Circuit Mount R o y a l T o w e r s , a owns known and operates as Mount a Royal 1120291 T o w e r s , a r e s u b j e c t t o an a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t and c o m p e l l i n g Robertson to a r b i t r a t e those claims. We affirm. I. In November 2008, R o b e r t s o n the skilled-nursing admission unit was a d m i t t e d as a r e s i d e n t t o a t Mount process, Robertson Royal executed Towers. disputes. The disputes and arbitration one agreement malpractice disputes provided, the a number o f d o c u m e n t s , i n c l u d i n g two o p t i o n a l a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s medical-malpractice During to one t o g o v e r n govern governing a l l other medical- i n relevant part: " I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t any d i s p u t e as t o m e d i c a l m a l p r a c t i c e , t h a t i s as t o w h e t h e r any m e d i c a l services rendered under this contract were unnecessary or unauthorized o r were improperly, negligently or incompetently rendered, will be d e t e r m i n e d by s u b m i s s i o n t o a r b i t r a t i o n as p r o v i d e d by A l a b a m a l a w and n o t by a l a w s u i t o r c o u r t p r o c e s s e x c e p t as A l a b a m a l a w p r o v i d e s f o r j u d i c i a l r e v i e w of a r b i t r a t i o n p r o c e e d i n g s . " (Emphasis added.) The other disputes provided, arbitration agreement governing a l l i n relevant part: "The r e s i d e n t a n d t h e f a c i l i t y f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t any dispute arising between them from torts, c o n t r a c t s , o r o t h e r w i s e , i n c l u d i n g any c l a i m s f o r p u n i t i v e damages and any a c t i o n s b r o u g h t on b e h a l f of t h e r e s i d e n t by t h i r d - p a r t i e s , b u t e x c e p t i n g c l a i m s p e r t a i n i n g t o t h e amount o f t h e f a c i l i t y ' s charges, s h a l l be s u b m i t t e d upon t h e r e q u e s t o f 2 1120291 e i t h e r the r e s i d e n t or the f a c i l i t y as p r o v i d e d by A l a b a m a l a w . " (Emphasis added.) Notably, both p r o v i d e d t h a t d i s p u t e s w o u l d be p r o v i d e d by A l a b a m a St. Vincent's subsequently arbitration arbitration agreements submitted "to a r b i t r a t i o n as law." On J u l y 26, 2010, to to R o b e r t s o n was Hospital admitted approximately August t o be 11, in t r a n s p o r t e d by Birmingham, treated 2010, f o r an where ambulance he was infection. On St. Vincent's n o t i f i e d Mount R o y a l Towers t h a t R o b e r t s o n was b e i n g r e l e a s e d ; h o w e v e r , Mount R o y a l Towers i n f o r m e d t h e h o s p i t a l t h a t i t no l o n g e r had a b e d a v a i l a b l e f o r Robertson and t h a t i t c o u l d n o t a c c e p t h i m b a c k as a r e s i d e n t o f t h e f a c i l i t y . a different facility i n the moved t o t h a t f a c i l i t y On March 2, Space was Birmingham 2012, from him area, and Robertson b a c k as sued Mount on t h e f a i l u r e Royal Towers, o f Mount R o y a l a r e s i d e n t upon h i s d i s c h a r g e S t . V i n c e n t ' s i n A u g u s t 2010. R o y a l Towers moved t h e t r i a l On A p r i l 9, 2012, Mount c o u r t t o s t a y t h e a c t i o n and compel R o b e r t s o n t o submit h i s d i s p u t e t o a r b i t r a t i o n to Robertson upon h i s r e l e a s e f r o m S t . V i n c e n t ' s . a s s e r t i n g v a r i o u s c l a i m s based Towers t o a c c e p t t h e r e a f t e r found i n pursuant t h e t e r m s o f t h e a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s he had s i g n e d . 3 to On 1120291 May 15, arguing 2012, that because: that Robertson the 1) trial "as a response c o u r t s h o u l d not the a r b i t r a t i o n d i s p u t e s between arbitration filed the provided agreements parties by that compel motion, arbitration specifically 1 would Alabama to be law" state submitted and, to Robertson argues, p r e d i s p u t e a r b i t r a t i o n agreements are not e n f o r c e a b l e under Alabama 2) the as t h e y do not provide details r e g a r d i n g t h e s e l e c t i o n o f an a r b i t r a t o r and the rules arbitration as opposed to federal law; agreements a r e t o o vague inasmuch applicable of arbitration. Mount Royal t h e r e a f t e r f i l e d a r e p l y responding to Robertson's and a h e a r i n g on t h e i s s u e o f a r b i t r a b i l i t y 17, 2012. On October 26, 2012, the t r i a l was and Towers arguments, h e l d on court entered o r d e r g r a n t i n g Mount R o y a l T o w e r s ' m o t i o n t o s t a y t h e May an action and c o m p e l l i n g R o b e r t s o n t o s u b m i t h i s c l a i m s t o a r b i t r a t i o n . R o b e r t s o n ' s s u b s e q u e n t m o t i o n t o a l t e r , amend, o r v a c a t e t h a t o r d e r was d e n i e d by t h e t r i a l Robertson f i l e d c o u r t , and on December 7, h i s n o t i c e of appeal to t h i s 2012, Court. ^The p a r t i e s d i s p u t e w h e t h e r any o r a l l o f R o b e r t s o n ' s c l a i m s s h o u l d p r o p e r l y be considered medical-malpractice c l a i m s and, a c c o r d i n g l y , w h i c h a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t w o u l d govern those c l a i m s . However, b e c a u s e t h e l a n g u a g e r e l e v a n t to t h i s a p p e a l i s t h e same i n b o t h a g r e e m e n t s , i t is u n n e c e s s a r y f o r us t o d e c i d e t h a t i s s u e . 4 1120291 II. The standard by which m o t i o n t o compel a r b i t r a t i o n order Inc., we review is well an order granting a settled: "We c o n d u c t a de novo r e v i e w o f a t r i a l c o u r t ' s compelling a r b i t r a t i o n . S m i t h v. Mark Dodge, 934 So. 2d 375, 378 ( A l a . 2 0 0 6 ) . "'The p a r t y s e e k i n g t o c o m p e l a r b i t r a t i o n must f i r s t p r o v e b o t h t h a t a contract c a l l i n g f o r a r b i t r a t i o n e x i s t s and t h a t t h e contract evidences a t r a n s a c t i o n i n v o l v i n g i n t e r s t a t e commerce Once t h i s s h o w i n g has b e e n made, t h e b u r d e n t h e n s h i f t s t o t h e nonmovant t o show t h a t t h e c o n t r a c t i s either invalid or i n a p p l i c a b l e to the circumstances presented.' " S m i t h , 934 Ritter v. (Ala. 2007). So. 2d a t 378." G r a d y A u t o . Group, I n c . , There is no 973 dispute So. in 2d 1058, this case c o n t r a c t c a l l i n g f o r a r b i t r a t i o n e x i s t s and t h a t the 1060-61 that contract e v i d e n c e s a t r a n s a c t i o n i n v o l v i n g i n t e r s t a t e commerce." The only has met issue before us i s , accordingly, whether h i s burden of showing t h a t the a r b i t r a t i o n he e x e c u t e d a r e " i n a p p l i c a b l e t o t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s Id. 5 "a Id. Robertson agreements presented." 1120291 III. Robertson first argues that the language in the a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s p r o v i d i n g t h a t any d i s p u t e s b e t w e e n h i m and Mount provided Royal by Towers Alabama be law" submitted i s tantamount to to arbitration a "as choice-of-law p r o v i s i o n d e c l a r i n g t h a t Alabama law, not f e d e r a l law, governs the interpretation agreements. Ala. Code And, 1975, and application Robertson continues, provides that controversy to a r b i t r a t i o n " i t was claims. We similar of the because arbitration § " [ a ] n agreement to c a n n o t be s p e c i f i c a l l y 8-1-41(3), submit a enforced, e r r o r f o r t h e t r i a l c o u r t t o compel a r b i t r a t i o n o f h i s We disagree. first note t h a t t h i s choice-of-law C o u r t has clauses applying previously held to a contract that as a w h o l e -- as o p p o s e d t o an a r b i t r a t i o n p r o v i s i o n c o n t a i n i n g i t s own choice-of-law urges. clause For example, So. 2d 428, 433 do n o t have t h e e f f e c t Robertson i n J i m W a l t e r Homes, I n c . v. S a x t o n , ( A l a . 2 0 0 3 ) , we stated: "Saxton's ... final argument i s that the arbitration agreement is negated by the choice-of-law p r o v i s i o n i n the c o n t r a c t , which s t a t e s t h e c o n t r a c t i s t o be g o v e r n e d by t h e l a w s o f the S t a t e of Alabama. Saxton argues t h a t because u n d e r § 8 - 1 - 4 1 ( 3 ) , A l a . Code 1975, a g r e e m e n t s t o 6 880 1120291 s u b m i t f u t u r e c o n t r o v e r s i e s t o a r b i t r a t i o n c a n n o t be s p e c i f i c a l l y enforced, t h e a r b i t r a t i o n agreement c a n n o t be e n f o r c e d . However, i n Allied-Bruce T e r m i n i x [Cos. v. Dobson, 513 U.S. 265, 270 ( 1 9 9 5 ) ] , t h e Supreme C o u r t o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s h e l d t h a t t h e F e d e r a l A r b i t r a t i o n A c t p r e e m p t s § 8-1-41(3) o f t h e A l a b a m a Code i n a c o n t r a c t , l i k e t h i s one, t h a t i n v o l v e s i n t e r s t a t e commerce." See a l s o Homes o f L e g e n d , I n c . v. M c C o l l o u g h , 776 So. 2d 741, 747 n. 9 ( A l a . 2000) ("Moreover, e v e n i f t h e choice-of-law c l a u s e were i n t e r p r e t e d as i n c l u d i n g A l a b a m a s u b s t a n t i v e law, n a m e l y , A l a . Code 1975, § 8 - 1 - 4 1 ( 3 ) , and, t h e r e b y , t o c o n f l i c t with the arbitration provision, preempted because i t c o n f l i c t s w i t h Act]."). Robertson, however, a r b i t r a t i o n agreement s p e c i f i c a l l y i s "completely that statute so vast argues that a separate i n c o r p o r a t i n g Alabama law d i f f e r e n t f r o m an o r d i n a r y c h o i c e - o f - l a w " A l t h o u g h we do n o t a g r e e t h a t t h e d i f f e r e n c e i s o r so m e a n i n g f u l , we g r a n t i t further The b a s i c p r e m i s e o f R o b e r t s o n ' s argument have clause Robertson's consideration b e c a u s e we have n o t s p e c i f i c a l l y a d d r e s s e d t h i s i s s u e that be the [Federal A r b i t r a t i o n t h a t a p p e a r s i n t h e main body o f a c o n t r a c t b r i e f , p. 13. would entered into an before. that parties a r b i t r a t i o n agreement may elect w i t h i n t h a t agreement t o p r o c e e d i n a r b i t r a t i o n s u b j e c t t o t h e law of a designated state as o p p o s e d t o f e d e r a l l a w as s e t 7 1120291 f o r t h i n t h e F e d e r a l A r b i t r a t i o n A c t ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 1 e t seq. i s generally correct. The U n i t e d States Court of Appeals f o r the F i f t h C i r c u i t explained t h i s p r i n c i p l e i n Ford v. NYLCare H e a l t h 247-49 Plans of Gulf Coast, I n c . , 141 F.3d 243, (5th C i r . 1998): "We will consider as a t h r e s h o l d matter, t h e r e f o r e , w h e t h e r p a r t i e s may d e s i g n a t e s t a t e l a w t o g o v e r n t h e s c o p e o f an a r b i t r a t i o n c l a u s e i n an a g r e e m e n t o t h e r w i s e c o v e r e d b y t h e FAA. Clearly, they can. The f e d e r a l p o l i c y u n d e r l y i n g t h e FAA ' i s simply t o ensure the e n f o r c e a b i l i t y , according t o t h e i r terms, o f p r i v a t e agreements t o a r b i t r a t e . ' V o l t I n f o r m a t i o n S c i e n c e s I n c . v. B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f L e l a n d S t a n f o r d J u n i o r U n i v . , 489 U.S. 468, 476, 109 S . C t . 1248, 1254, 103 L.Ed.2d 488 (1989) (emphasis added). I n d e e d , t h e FAA was s p e c i f i c a l l y d e s i g n e d t o p l a c e a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s '"upon t h e same f o o t i n g as o t h e r contracts."' S c h e r k v. A l b e r t o - C u l v e r Co., 417 U.S. 506, 510-11, 94 S . C t . 2449, 2453, 41 L.Ed.2d 270 (1974) ( q u o t i n g H.R.Rep. No. 96, 6 8 t h Cong., 1 s t S e s s . , 1, 2 ( 1 9 2 4 ) ) . And, 'as w i t h any o t h e r c o n t r a c t , t h e p a r t i e s ' i n t e n t i o n s control' the ultimate interpretation of an a r b i t r a t i o n clause. M i t s u b i s h i [ M o t o r s C o r p . v. S o l e r C h r y s l e r - P l y m o u t h , I n c . ] , 473 U.S. [614,] 626, 105 S . C t . [3346,] 3354 [ ( 1 9 8 5 ) ] . F o r ' [ a ] r b i t r a t i o n under t h e [FAA] i s a m a t t e r of consent, not coercion, and p a r t i e s are generally free to s t r u c t u r e t h e i r a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s as t h e y s e e fit.' V o l t , 489 U.S. a t 479, 109 S . C t . a t 1256; s e e a l s o D r a k e B a k e r i e s , I n c . v. L o c a l 50, Am. B a k e r y & C o n f e c t i o n e r y W o r k e r s I n t ' l , AFL-CIO, 370 U.S. 254, 256, 82 S . C t . 1346, 1348, 8 L.Ed.2d 474 (1962) ('the issue of a r b i t r a b i l i t y i s a question f o rthe courts and i s t o be d e t e r m i n e d b y t h e c o n t r a c t e n t e r e d i n t o by t h e p a r t i e s ' ); B a r a v a t i v. J o s e p h t h a l , L y o n & Ross, I n c . , 28 F.3d 704, 709 ( 7 t h C i r . 1994) 8 1120291 ( P o s n e r , C.J.) ('short of a u t h o r i z i n g trial by b a t t l e o r o r d e a l o r , more d o u b t f u l l y , by a p a n e l o f t h r e e monkeys, ... p a r t i e s a r e as f r e e t o s p e c i f y i d i o s y n c r a t i c t e r m s o f a r b i t r a t i o n as t h e y a r e t o s p e c i f y any o t h e r t e r m s i n t h e i r c o n t r a c t ' ) . " A p p l y i n g t h e s e p r i n c i p l e s , t h e Supreme C o u r t has r e c o g n i z e d t h a t p a r t i e s may use choice-of-law p r o v i s i o n s t o d e s i g n a t e s t a t e law t o p r o v i d e the p r o c e d u r a l r u l e s under which a r b i t r a t i o n w i l l be conducted. See V o l t , 489 U.S. a t 476, 109 S.Ct. at 1254. I n V o l t , t h e p a r t i e s had e n t e r e d i n t o an agreement with a general choice-of-law clause p r o v i d i n g t h a t t h e a g r e e m e n t be g o v e r n e d by t h e law o f t h e p l a c e where t h e s u b j e c t o f t h e a g r e e m e n t was l o c a t e d , w h i c h i n t h a t c a s e was C a l i f o r n i a . See i d . a t 470, 109 S.Ct. a t 1251. The i s s u e was w h e t h e r a p r o c e d u r a l r u l e i n the C a l i f o r n i a A r b i t r a t i o n A c t , n o t a v a i l a b l e u n d e r t h e FAA, s h o u l d be i n t e r p r e t e d to a p p l y t o the a r b i t r a t i o n agreement. The C o u r t held that i t should, s t a t i n g : "'Just as [the parties] may limit by contract the issues which they will a r b i t r a t e , ... so t o o may t h e y s p e c i f y t h e r u l e s u n d e r w h i c h t h a t a r b i t r a t i o n w i l l be conducted. Where, as h e r e , t h e p a r t i e s have a g r e e d t o a b i d e by s t a t e r u l e s of arbitration, enforcing those rules a c c o r d i n g t o the terms of the agreement i s f u l l y c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the g o a l s of the FAA, even i f the r e s u l t i s t h a t a r b i t r a t i o n i s s t a y e d where t h e [FAA] would otherwise p e r m i t i t t o go f o r w a r d . ' " I d . a t 479, 109 S.Ct. a t 1256. As t h e a b o v e - q u o t e d passage demonstrates, the Court e x p r e s s l y analogized the p a r t i e s ' freedom t o l i m i t c o n t r a c t u a l l y the scope of the a r b i t r a t i o n c l a u s e w i t h t h e i r freedom t o s e l e c t t h e r u l e s u n d e r w h i c h a r b i t r a t i o n w i l l be conducted. I t f o l l o w s , t h e n , t h a t i f the p a r t i e s may s e l e c t t h e r u l e s o f a r b i t r a t i o n t h r o u g h t h e use 9 1120291 o f c h o i c e - o f - l a w p r o v i s i o n s , so t o o may t h e y s p e c i f y t h e law g o v e r n i n g i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e s c o p e o f t h e arbitration clause. I n d e e d , we think that to d i s r e g a r d t h e p a r t i e s ' c h o i c e o f law i n t h i s r e s p e c t 'would be quite inimical to the FAA's p r i m a r y purpose of e n s u r i n g t h a t p r i v a t e agreements to a r b i t r a t e are e n f o r c e d a c c o r d i n g to t h e i r terms.' Id. " C o n s e q u e n t l y , t h e i s s u e we must a d d r e s s h e r e i s w h e t h e r t h e p a r t i e s i n t e n d e d s t a t e law t o g o v e r n t h e scope of t h e i r agreement t o a r b i t r a t e . If the a g r e e m e n t b e t w e e n [the p a r t i e s ] d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e i r i n t e n t t o have t h e s c o p e o f t h e a r b i t r a t i o n c l a u s e d e t e r m i n e d by T e x a s law, we must r e s p e c t that choice. O n l y by r i g o r o u s l y e n f o r c i n g a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s a c c o r d i n g t o t h e i r t e r m s , do we 'give e f f e c t t o t h e c o n t r a c t u a l r i g h t s and e x p e c t a t i o n s o f the p a r t i e s , w i t h o u t d o i n g v i o l e n c e to the p o l i c i e s b e h i n d t h e FAA.' V o l t , 489 U.S. a t 479, 109 S.Ct. a t 1256." (Footnote omitted.) As Ford articulates, the fundamental r e a s o n i n g b e h i n d t h i s p r i n c i p l e i s t h a t a r b i t r a t i o n agreements are essentially just o t h e r c o n t r a c t , the at 247 (quoting Plymouth, Inc., of the a s p e c i e s of parties' Mitsubishi 473 U.S. intentions 614, v. 130 S.Ct. AnimalFeeds 1758, Corp. 626 (1985)). arbitrators interpreting v. Soler The Corp., 559 with 141 F.3d Chrysler- Stolt-Nielsen U.S. 662, , ( 2 0 1 0 ) , when i t c a u t i o n e d c o u r t s arbitration 10 clauses any Supreme C o u r t t h i s concept i n International 1774-75 "'as control.'" Motors United States reiterated S.A. c o n t r a c t and not to and "lose 1120291 sight of the purpose of the e x e r c i s e : intent of the With to give e f f e c t to the parties." that goal argument must f a i l . i n mind, i t i s evident Robertson's a "court has a d u t y t o a c c e p t t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n t h a t w i l l u p h o l d , rather than destroy, the When i n t e r p r e t i n g that contract and meaning t o a l l of i t s terms." 746. Were we Royal effect at the in "as knowingly provided they intended whatsoever. 2 give effect Homes o f L e g e n d , 776 agreeing by t o § 8 - 1 - 4 1 ( 3 ) , we time will So. t o a c c e p t R o b e r t s o n ' s argument t h a t he and Towers, arbitration that a contract, That executed for to submit Alabama law," any intended those arbitration agreements is unlikely; 2d to holding have no to give that, agreements, to at Mount disputes w o u l d e f f e c t i v e l y be the and they effect i t i s f a r more l i k e l y that As A l a n S c o t t Rau s t a t e d i n Does S t a t e A r b i t r a t i o n Law Matter At A l l ? Part I: F e d e r a l P r e e m p t i o n , ADR Currents, June 1998, a t 19-20: 2 "Are we t o s u p p o s e t h a t t h e p a r t i e s t o t h i s c o n t r a c t agreed to a r b i t r a t i o n , while a t the same t i m e i n t e n d i n g t o a d o p t a body o f s t a t e l a w t h a t w o u l d i n a l l p o s s i b l e c i r c u m s t a n c e s make t h e i r a g r e e m e n t t o arbitrate invalid? One who b e l i e v e s t h a t i s c a p a b l e of b e l i e v i n g anything." (Quoted i n C h r i s t o p h e r R. D r a h o z a l , F e d e r a l A r b i t r a t i o n A c t P r e e m p t i o n , 79 I n d . L . J . 393, 413 n. 153 ( S p r i n g 2 0 0 4 ) . ) 11 1120291 R o b e r t s o n a n d Mount R o y a l Towers i n t e n d e d a g r e e m e n t s t o be e n f o r c e d i n a manner c o n s i s t e n t w i t h A l a b a m a law because, a t t h a t t i m e , had been relegated transaction any way." 2004), f o r the a r b i t r a t i o n " t h e a p p l i c a t i o n o f [§ 8 - 1 - 4 1 ( 3 ) ] to the rare case of a purely intrastate t h a t c o u l d n o t be s a i d t o ' i n v o l v e commerce' i n B i r m i n g h a m News v . H o r n , overruled on other 901 So. 2d 27, 44 grounds, S h a n e r , 999 So. 2d 462 ( A l a . 2 0 0 8 ) . Horton Homes, (Ala. I n c . v. 3 Our h o l d i n g i n t h i s r e g a r d e f f e c t i v e l y a d d r e s s e s t h e i s s u e p r e s e n t b u t n o t r a i s e d by t h e p a r t i e s i n J.L. L o p e r C o n s t r u c t i o n Co. v. F i n d o u t P a r t n e r s h i p , L L P , 55 So. 3d 1152, 1153 ( A l a . 2 0 1 0 ) , where t h e p a r t i e s h a d a g r e e d t o arbitrate any d i s p u t e s " i n accordance w i t h t h e Alabama A r b i t r a t i o n Act." We s t a t e d t h e n : 3 " P r e d i s p u t e a r b i t r a t i o n agreements under t h e A l a b a m a A r b i t r a t i o n A c t , §§ 6-6-1 t h r u -16, A l a . Code 1975, c o n t r a v e n e A l a b a m a l a w a n d a r e n o t s p e c i f i c a l l y enforceable. See § 8 - 1 - 4 1 ( 3 ) , A l a . Code 1975, w h i c h p r o v i d e s t h a t an a g r e e m e n t t o submit a controversy to arbitration c a n n o t be s p e c i f i c a l l y enforced. See a l s o A l a f a b c o , I n c . v. C i t i z e n s Bank, 872 So. 2d 798 ( A l a . 2 0 0 2 ) , r e v e r s e d on o t h e r g r o u n d s b y C i t i z e n s Bank v. A l a f a b c o , I n c . , 539 U.S. 52, 123 S . C t . 2037, 156 L.Ed.2d 46 ( 2 0 0 3 ) . The issue of e n f o r c e a b i l i t y of the predispute a r b i t r a t i o n p r o v i s i o n a g r e e d upon b y t h e p a r t i e s i n Article 9 o f t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n c o n t r a c t was n o t p r e s e n t e d t o t h e t r i a l c o u r t , n o r was i t a r g u e d i n b r i e f s t o t h i s Court. A c c o r d i n g l y , we w i l l n o t a d d r e s s t h a t i s s u e on a p p e a l . " Id. a t 1153 n. 1. 12 1120291 Accordingly, language dispute we i n the Robertson's and argument that the agreements arbitration between him arbitration reject providing that any Mount R o y a l Towers be submitted to "as p r o v i d e d by A l a b a m a l a w " r e i n c a r n a t e s § 41(3) and t h u s r e n d e r s t h e a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s R a t h e r , we Court of agree w i t h the r a t i o n a l e Texas S.W.3d 883, i n In re Olshan 890-91 (Tex. 2 0 1 0 ) , 8-1- meaningless. e x p r e s s e d by t h e Supreme F o u n d a t i o n R e p a i r Co., that generic language 328 i n an a r b i t r a t i o n agreement i n d i c a t i n g t h a t the p a r t i e s i n t e n d e d f o r t h e i r a r b i t r a t i o n t o be g o v e r n e d by " t h e l a w s o f t h e s t a t e " "Texas l a w " w o u l d n o t p r e e m p t t h e FAA p a r t of the a r b i t r a t i o n l a w s o f Texas because "[t]he and c a n be FAA i s applied a r b i t r a t i o n a d m i n i s t e r e d p u r s u a n t t o the laws of Texas." rationale of § i s t r u e even more so i n A l a b a m a , w h e r e , as a 8-1-43(3), arbitration we for have largely dealing with "not developed pre-dispute or to This result rules of agreements i n d e p e n d e n t f r o m t h e l a w t h a t has d e v e l o p e d i n c a s e s i n w h i c h the [FAA] a p p l i e d . " So. 2d 102, 106 A l l i e d - B r u c e T e r m i n i x Cos. v. Dobson, (Ala. 1995). 4 I n sum, t h e FAA 684 i s p a r t of the In contrast, Texas has adopted t h e Texas General A r b i t r a t i o n A c t ("TAA"), Tex C i v . P r a c . & Rem. Code, § 171.001 et seq., which c o n t a i n s p r o v i s i o n s a p p l y i n g to p r e - d i s p u t e a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s , and I n r e O l s h a n F o u n d a t i o n R e p a i r , 4 13 1120291 a r b i t r a t i o n l a w s o f A l a b a m a a n d c a n be a p p l i e d t o a r b i t r a t i o n administered "as p r o v i d e d b y A l a b a m a l a w . " IV. R o b e r t s o n next argues t h a t t h e a r b i t r a t i o n agreements a r e t o o vague t o be e n f o r c e d b e c a u s e t h e y make o n l y a g e n e r a l for arbitration selection rules without p r o v i d i n g any d e t a i l s o f an a r b i t r a t o r of arbitration. or arbitrators As explained call regarding the or the a p p l i c a b l e supra, arbitration a g r e e m e n t s a r e t o be t r e a t e d l i k e any o t h e r c o n t r a c t s a n d , as Robertson argues, " i f a c o u r t cannot d i s c e r n t h e i n t e n t i o n s o f t h e p a r t i e s t o a c o n t r a c t b e c a u s e t h e c o n t r a c t i s so vague a n d indefinite, uncertainty." 753, So. that the contract is void Drummond Co. v. W a l t e r 774 ( A l a . 2 0 0 6 ) . on the Indus., ground of I n c . , 962 So. 2d See a l s o Capmark Bank v. RGR, L L C , 81 3d 1258, 1268 ( A l a . 2011) ( h o l d i n g e n f o r c e a b l e a c o n t r a c t failed to express a l l t h e terms essential to the transaction). 328 S.W.3d a t 891, a f f i r m e d t h e r i g h t o f p a r t i e s t o e l e c t t o a r b i t r a t e p u r s u a n t t o t h e TAA t o t h e e x c l u s i o n o f t h e FAA. However, t h e A l a b a m a A r b i t r a t i o n A c t , § 6-6-1 e t s e q . , A l a . Code 1975, g e n e r a l l y a p p l i e s o n l y t o p o s t - d i s p u t e a r b i t r a t i o n agreements. See, e . g . , § 6-6-3 ("The p a r t i e s must c o n c i s e l y s t a t e i n w r i t i n g , s i g n e d b y them, t h e m a t t e r i n dispute b e t w e e n them a n d t h a t t h e y d e s i r e t o l e a v e t h e d e t e r m i n a t i o n t h e r e o f t o c e r t a i n p e r s o n s , naming them as a r b i t r a t o r s " ) . 14 1120291 However, arbitration details although agreements Robertson is correct do n o t s e t f o r t h of any arbitration that agreements, they do c l e a r l y evince that the a l l the procedural might result the p a r t i e s ' from the intent to s u b m i t f u t u r e d i s p u t e s t o a r b i t r a t i o n ; t h a t much i s c l e a r . In l i g h t o f t h a t f a c t , we t h i n k i t a p p r o p r i a t e t o l o o k t o t h e FAA to fill i n t h e gaps i n t h e a r b i t r a t i o n agreements so as t o g i v e e f f e c t t o t h e e x p e c t a t i o n s o f t h e p a r t i e s as e x p r e s s e d those agreements. S e c t i o n 5 o f t h e FAA, i n f a c t , by provides: " I f i n t h e a g r e e m e n t p r o v i s i o n be made f o r a method o f naming o r a p p o i n t i n g an a r b i t r a t o r o r a r b i t r a t o r s o r an u m p i r e , s u c h method s h a l l be f o l l o w e d ; b u t i f no method be p r o v i d e d t h e r e i n , o r i f a method be p r o v i d e d a n d any p a r t y t h e r e t o s h a l l f a i l t o a v a i l h i m s e l f o f s u c h method, o r i f f o r any o t h e r r e a s o n t h e r e s h a l l be a l a p s e i n t h e naming o f an arbitrator or a r b i t r a t o r s or umpire, or i n f i l l i n g a v a c a n c y , t h e n upon t h e a p p l i c a t i o n o f e i t h e r party to the controversy the court shall d e s i g n a t e a n d a p p o i n t an a r b i t r a t o r o r a r b i t r a t o r s o r u m p i r e , as t h e c a s e may r e q u i r e , who s h a l l a c t u n d e r t h e s a i d a g r e e m e n t w i t h t h e same f o r c e a n d e f f e c t as i f he o r t h e y h a d b e e n s p e c i f i c a l l y named therein; and u n l e s s otherwise provided i n the a g r e e m e n t t h e a r b i t r a t i o n s h a l l be b y a s i n g l e arbitrator." (Emphasis added.) T h i s C o u r t has p r e v i o u s l y condoned t h e use o f § 5 f o r s e l e c t i n g an a r b i t r a t o r Home F a c t o r y Outlet, i n Harold A l l e n ' s I n c . v. B u t l e r , 15 Mobile 825 So. 2d 779 ( A l a . 1120291 2 0 0 2 ) , s u m m a r i z e d as v. L e e , 833 So. 2d f o l l o w s i n BankAmerica Housing 609, 619 Services ( A l a . 2002): " I n B u t l e r , t h e p l a i n t i f f s i g n e d an arbitration agreement t h a t a c c o r d e d the d e f e n d a n t s e l l e r the s o l e r i g h t t o choose the arbitrator, the only l i m i t a t i o n on t h a t r i g h t b e i n g t h a t 'no a r b i t r a t o r may be s e l e c t e d by the SELLER who shall have p r o v i d e d l e g a l r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s e r v i c e s to or f o r the SELLER a t any t i m e . ' 825 So. 2d a t 781. The t r i a l court held that this clause, which gave the defendant alone the r i g h t to s e l e c t the a r b i t r a t o r , w i t h no i n p u t f r o m t h e b u y e r , was unconscionable. B a s e d on § 5 of the Federal A r b i t r a t i o n Act ( h e r e i n a f t e r r e f e r r e d t o as 'the F A A ' ) , t h e t r i a l c o u r t a p p o i n t e d an a r b i t r a t o r f o r t h e p a r t i e s . In t h i s C o u r t ' s r e v i e w o f t h e t r i a l c o u r t ' s a c t i o n s , we c o n c l u d e d t h a t t h e t r i a l c o u r t a c t e d p r o p e r l y when it looked to § 5 of the FAA f o r guidance i n f a s h i o n i n g a remedy. ... " ' ' "The t r i a l c o u r t s e l e c t e d an a r b i t r a t o r on t h e b a s i s t h a t t h e s e l e c t i o n method p r o v i d e d by the a g r e e m e n t was i n v a l i d and t h a t § 5 p r o v i d e d t h a t i t was t h e c o u r t ' s d u t y t o s e l e c t an a r b i t r a t o r i n t h e absence of valid d i r e c t i o n i n the arbitration agreement. Because the p o r t i o n of the a r b i t r a t i o n agreement p r o v i d i n g f o r the s e l e c t i o n of a r b i t r a t o r s was found to be unconscionable and therefore invalid, the arbitration agreement no longer p r o v i d e d f o r the s e l e c t i o n of a r b i t r a t o r s . Under those c i r c u m s t a n c e s , t h i s Court determined t h a t the t r i a l c o u r t had a c t e d p r o p e r l y u n d e r t h e FAA by s e l e c t i n g an a r b i t r a t o r f o r t h e p a r t i e s . " The case arbitration contain no agreements provision e x e c u t e d by for 16 the selecting parties in an this arbitrator. 1120291 Accordingly, we r e a f f i r m the p r i n c i p l e set t h a t i t i s proper f o r the t r i a l to appoint entered an provision court to apply a r b i t r a t o r when i n t o an forth in parties to § 5 of the a dispute a r b i t r a t i o n agreement t h a t c o n t a i n s for appointing Butler FAA have no valid an a r b i t r a t o r . C i t i n g c a s e s s u c h as R i v e r a v. A m e r i c a n G e n e r a l F i n a n c i a l Services, argues Inc., that 150 N.M. appointing 398, an 259 P.3d 803 (2011), arbitrator neither R o y a l Towers a g r e e d t o i s an i m p e r m i s s i b l e a r b i t r a t i o n agreements. Court case of New where holding We Mexico d e c l i n e d the that designated "the court to substitute 718 So. select and appoint arbitral ... impose the 150 N.M. at , 259 P.3d 45, 49 ( A l a . 1 9 9 8 ) , we was a r b i t r a t o r i f the 17 Supreme i n t e g r a l to FAA the a unavailable, does n o t a t 815. the allow parties terms of h e l d t h a t i t was a their However, i n Ex p a r t e f o l l o w t h e p r o c e d u r e s e t f o r t h i n § 5 o f t h e FAA replacement their arbitrator in contracting a l s o s p o k e n on t h i s t o p i c , and, 2d an was § 5 of the Mount expansion of forum forum] on nor In R i v e r a , the a r b i t r a t o r inconsistent with contract." C o u r t has to [designated a g r e e m e n t t o a r b i t r a t e and a disagree. he Robertson this Warren, proper to to appoint a a r b i t r a t o r designated in the 1120291 a g r e e m e n t was parties] u n a v a i l a b l e and t h e r e was intended essential term of arbitration their the choice of "no e v i d e n c e t h a t an contract." In a g r e e m e n t s e x e c u t e d by arbitrator the instant may t h e p r o c e d u r e s t o be case, essential part of Royal followed i n arbitration. their agreements. This an the an a r b i t r a t o r assume, t h e r e f o r e , t h a t t h e s e m a t t e r s were n o t an and be R o b e r t s o n and Mount Towers c o n t a i n e d no p r o v i s i o n s f o r s e l e c t i n g specifying to [the or We integral case is a c c o r d i n g l y more a k i n t o Ex p a r t e W a r r e n t h a n R i v e r a b e c a u s e , as i n Ex parties p a r t e W a r r e n , we agreed arbitration." in 718 i s p a r a m o u n t and FAA. general So. can have " o n l y t h e to 2d a t 49. be given inference submit That i n t e n t effect by the claims their that to of the applying parties § 5 of the R o b e r t s o n ' s argument t h a t t h e a r b i t r a t i o n a g r e e m e n t s a r e t o o vague t o be enforced i s without merit. V. Robertson appealed the order of the t h a t h i s c l a i m s a g a i n s t Mount R o y a l arbitration those a g r e e m e n t and claims. a g r e e m e n t s he compelling Robertson argues court holding Towers a r e s u b j e c t t o Robertson that e x e c u t e d w i t h Mount R o y a l 18 trial the to an arbitrate arbitration Towers a r e n o t valid 1120291 u n d e r A l a b a m a l a w and, i n t h e a l t e r n a t i v e , valid, they explained are too vague supra, the a r b i t r a t i o n Alabama law, and t h e t r i a l in those to agreements as the t r i a l enforced. i f they are However, agreements are v a l i d c o u r t may p r o p e r l y f i l l necessary p a r t i e s ' agreement t o a r b i t r a t e . of be that, to give as under i n "gaps" effect to the For these reasons, the order court i s hereby a f f i r m e d . AFFIRMED. B o l i n , P a r k e r , M u r d o c k , Shaw, M a i n , W i s e , and B r y a n , J J . , concur. Moore, C . J . , d i s s e n t s . 19