Chen v. Russell Realty, LLCAnnotate this Case
In 2010, Yan Chen, who had a business interest in a restaurant, entered into a 10-year lease agreement with Russell Realty, LLC, and MRT, LLC. The property to be leased was located in Greenville. The lease agreement was drafted by Russell Realty and contained an arbitration clause. In 2012, Russell Realty and MRT sued Chen along with Qiaoyun He, Joe Zou, and Yami Buffet, Inc., alleging breach of contract. Chen filed a response to the motion, alleging that she had been in China for a few months, and that she had not been personally served with notice of the lawsuit. She subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the lease agreement contained an arbitration clause and that "said complaint fails to state any measures that have been taken in lieu of the fulfillment of such agreed Arbitration Clause." The trial court denied both Russell Realty and MRT's motion for a default judgment and Chen's motion to dismiss. About a month after this, Chen filed a motion to compel arbitration, asserting that, as "part of Plaintiffs['] lease agreement, plaintiff[s] agreed to binding arbitration. In 2013, Chen filed a second motion to dismiss, alleging that Russell Realty and MRT had refused to mediate and had refused to arbitrate. Russell Realty and MRT filed an objection to Chen's second motion to dismiss, asserting that "time of the stay set by the court has almost expired and Defendant Yan Chen has not made any movement, act, or effort to seek Arbitration to resolve the issues." Russell Realty and MRT again sought a default judgment against the defendants, including Chen. She asserted that counsel for Russell Realty and MRT had failed to respond to her attempts to seek a settlement before the hiring of a mediator or arbitrator and that, subsequently, she had contacted a mediator/arbitrator and Russell Realty and MRT had not responded to her choice of mediator/arbitrator. The trial court then entered an order stating that the Chen's appeal was moot as the court had not yet entered a final order. In early 2015, the trial court entered an order awarding Russell Realty and MRT $682,050.10 against all the defendants, including Chen, jointly and severally. Chen appealed. Based on its review of the facts in the circuit court record, the Supreme Court reversed with regard to Chen and remanded the case for the trial court to enter an order requiring arbitration in accordance with the terms of the lease agreement.