In re Service Corp. Int'l and SCI Texas Funeral Services, Inc. (Other)Annotate this Case
This case arose when Norma Sandoval and her sister, Nora Martinez, jointly filed suit against SCI alleging fraud, deceptive trade practices, and other tort claims arising from their respective interment rights and services contracts for family burial plots at Mont Meta Memorial Park. Martinez's contract allowed the court to appoint an arbitrator, while Sandoval's contract required the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to appoint the arbitrator if the parties could not reach a mutual agreement. The trial judge severed the cases and then appointed an arbitrator for Martinez's case. Over the objection of SCI, the trial court also appointed the same arbitrator to arbitrate Sandoval's case. At issue on appeal was whether SCI allowed a lapse or mechanical breakdown in the contractual process for selection of an arbitrator, thereby validating the trial court's intervention to appoint the arbitrator. The court held that the trial court abused its discretion by appointing an arbitrator instead of following the agreed-upon method of selection outlined in the contract. As a matter of law, the two-month delay in the selection of an arbitrator in this case, by itself, did not establish a lapse or failure of the parties to avail themselves of the contractual selection method. Accordingly, without hearing oral argument, the court conditionally granted SCI's petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its prior order appointing David Calvillo as arbitrator.