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Watts Water Technologies, Inc. v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 27, 2016

Watts Water Technologies, Inc., Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. a/s/o Richard Lucka, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Lake Superior Court The Honorable Diane Kavadias Schneider, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 45D11-1507-CT-125

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT John D. Papageorge Jeffrey D. Stemerick Taft Stettinius & Hollister, LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Brad M. Gordon Grotefeld, Hoffman, Schleiter, Gordon, Ochoa, & Evinger, LLP Chicago, Illinois

          Brown, Judge.

         [¶1] Watts Water Technologies, Inc. ("Watts") appeals the trial court's order denying its motion to compel arbitration. Watts raises three issues which we consolidate and restate as whether the trial court erred in denying its motion. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Watts and State Farm Fire & Casualty, Co. ("State Farm") were signatories to a Property Subrogation Arbitration Agreement (the "Arbitration Agreement"), which provided in part:

By signing this Agreement, the company accepts and binds itself to the following:
Article First
Compulsory Provisions
Signatory companies must forego litigation and submit any personal, commercial, or self-insured property subrogation claims to Arbitration Forums, Inc. (herein after referred to as AF).
Article Fourth Non-Compulsory Provisions
The parties may, with written consent, submit a claim:
(a) that exceeds this forum's monetary limit
(b) where a non-signatory wants to participate.
Once a company gives written consent, all Articles and Rules of this forum are applicable, and the company may not revoke its consent.
Article Fifth
AF's Function and Authority
AF, representing the signatory companies, is authorized to:
(a) make appropriate Rules and Regulations for the presentation and determination of controversies under this Agreement;
(b) determine the location, and the means by which, arbitration cases are heard;
(c) determine qualification criteria and provide for the selection and appointment of arbitrators;
(d) establish fees;
(e) invite other insurance carriers, noninsurers, or self-insureds to participate in this arbitration program, and compel the withdrawal of any signatory for failure to conform to the Agreement or the Rules issued thereunder.
Article Sixth
Withdrawals
Any signatory company may withdraw from this Agreement by notice in writing to AF. Such withdrawal will become effective sixty (60) days after receipt of such notice except as to cases then pending before arbitration panels. The effective date of withdrawal as to such pending cases shall be upon final compliance with the finding of the arbitration panel on those cases.

Appellant's Appendix at 41-42.

         [¶3] In November 2014, Arbitration Forums gave notice to the parties that it intended to amend the Arbitration ...


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