Thursday, August 19, 2004

No waiver of arbitration rights by participation in district court proceedings

In Patten Grading & Paving, Inc. v. Slanska USA Building, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Duncan, joined by District Judge Flanagan, with Judge Widener dissenting, held that the trial court erred in concluding that the defendant contractor and its surety had waived the arbitration clause in its agreement with the subcontractor plaintiff. The proceedings in the district court went on for about eight months and included some written discovery and an attempt at mediation, before the motion for a stay and arbitration was made.

Geez, I would have guessed the other way on this one. Eight months in federal court is a long time!

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