Borror Property Management, LLC v. Oro Karric North, LLC, No. 20-3146 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Oro contracted for Borror to manage Oro’s residential apartments. Each management contract stated: “If either party shall notify the other that any matter is to be determined by arbitration,” the parties would proceed to arbitration unless they first resolved the dispute. A dispute arose and resulted in Borror’s ceasing to manage Oro’s properties. Oro responded by letter asserting that Borror was in breach of the contracts and that Oro planned “to proceed directly to litigation in either state or federal court,” as the contracts “do not limit litigation exclusively to arbitration.” Nonetheless, Oro asked Borror to notify it within six days if Borror preferred arbitration. A week after receiving Oro’s letter, Borror filed a federal court complaint asserting its own breach of contract claims. Rather than filing an answer or another responsive pleading, Oro moved to compel arbitration.
The district court held that Oro had waived its contractual right to arbitration through its pre-litigation conduct. Invoking its appeal rights under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, Oro timely appealed. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Correspondence is not equivalent to formal litigation; parties often posture their claims with “loose rhetorical flair.” Oro’s pre-trial “posturing” correspondence was neither inconsistent with its arbitration right nor prejudicial to Borror.