OF JUDGMENT: 10/30/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. LISA P.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: BLEWETT W. THOMAS.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JAMES GRADY WYLY III KYLE STUART
MORAN ADAM BLAKE HARRIS.
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
Paige Electric Company (Paige Electric) filed a malpractice
suit against Davis & Feder P.A., claiming the firm
mishandled its legal claims and committed malpractice.
Because the retainer agreement between the parties contained
an arbitration clause, the case was submitted to an
arbitrator, who issued an award in favor of Davis & Feder
and denied Paige Electric any relief.
Paige Electric filed motions in the First Judicial District
of Harrison County Circuit Court to declare the arbitration
clause void and to vacate the arbitration award. The circuit
court denied the motions, dismissing Paige Electric's
claims with prejudice. Paige Electric now appeals, claiming
the circuit court erred in finding that Paige Electric waived
any objection to the arbitration clause by voluntarily
participating in the arbitration. Paige Electric also asserts
that the arbitration award in favor of Davis & Feder
should be vacated, as the arbitrator exceeded his authority
in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section
11-15-23(d) (Rev. 2004) and 9 United States Code section
10(a)(4) (2012). ¶3. Finding no error, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in
2005, Southern Construction Services Inc. (SCS) hired Paige
Electric as a subcontractor to provide electrical contracting
on all of SCS's projects. Paige Electric s owner, Jerry
Paige, was also hired by SCS as its general supervisor due to
his certification in building construction and electrical
When SCS failed to pay Paige Electric for its services on its
last project, Studio Inn, Paige Electric hired Davis &
Feder to handle its claim to collect the unpaid balance of
$271, 364.22. The Retainer Agreement, entered into on March
19, 2007, contained an arbitration clause, which stated:
This provision regarding arbitration of disputes shall apply
to any dispute between the parties which arises from, or is
related to, a claimed breach of this agreement, the
professional legal services rendered by Davis & Feder,
P.A. or any claim for legal and or professional malpractice,
or any claim or disagreement between the parties of any kind,
nature, type or description regardless of the facts or the
legal theories which may be involved or asserted. . . . You
are specifically agreeing to waive your right to a trial by
jury regarding any claims or disputes you may have arising
from this Agreement.
associate attorney who worked on the case, David Brisolara,
pursued two separate claims against SCS on Paige
Electric's behalf: (1) the collection of the unpaid
balance; and (2) a lien pursuant to Mississippi Code
Annotated section 85-7-181 (Rev. 1999) against Studio
Inn's owner, Hancock Hotels. Although Brisolara filed a
notice of construction lien with the Harrison County Chancery
Clerk on March 21, 2007, no suit was filed regarding the
construction lien. Brisolara was successful in obtaining a
default judgment of $271, 364.22 against SCS on November 7,
2007, but as SCS was insolvent at this point, efforts to
collect the judgment were unsuccessful. Brisolara left Davis
& Feder at the end of 2008, and the law firm terminated
its representation of Paige Electric in January 2009.
It was not until March 2013 that Jerry Paige discovered that
no lien had been placed on Hancock Hotels' property. On
January 16, 2014, Paige Electric filed a malpractice suit
against Davis & Feder, asserting that the firm should
have "done more" to collect the company's
claims against SCS. Davis & Feder moved to dismiss the
complaint. On June 9, 2014, the circuit court entered an
agreed order referring the case to arbitration.
The parties agreed to the appointment of William Larry Latham
as both arbitrator and special master for purposes of
presiding over third-party discovery. Following discovery, a
three-day arbitration hearing was held on May 27-29, 2015,
with both parties presenting expert testimony. On July 23,
2015, the arbitrator published his award, dismissing with
prejudice all claims against Davis & ...