Schuiling v. HarrisAnnotate this Case
In 2007, Schuiling hired Harris as his full-time, live-in housecleaner. Harris signed an arbitration agreement, a one-page, pre-printed form prepared for Schuling’s auto business, stating that disputes “shall be resolved exclusively by arbitration administered by the National Arbitration Forum under its code of procedure then in effect.” In 2011, Harris sued Schuiling, alleging multiple torts, statutory violations, and breach of contract. Schuiling moved to enforce arbitration under Code § 8.01-581.02(A), stating that the National Arbitration Forum was no longer available and requesting the court to appoint a substitute arbitrator under Code § 8.01-581.03. Harris argued that unavailability of the named arbitrator, coupled with the agreement’s failure to provide for a substitute arbitrator, rendered the agreement unenforceable. The circuit court agreed with Harris and denied the motion to compel arbitration. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed. Relying on the intention of the parties as expressed in the language of the agreement, the court concluded that NAF’s designation as arbitrator was not integral and was severable in order to give effect to the arbitration requirement, the sole purpose of the agreement.