IN THE SUPREME COURT OF
Bob Chambers, et al., Petitioners,
John M. O’Quinn, John M. O’Quinn, P.C. and
John M. O’Quinn d/b/a O’Quinn & Laminack, Respondents
On Petition for Review from the
Court of Appeals for the First District of
In this case, we consider whether the court of appeals had jurisdiction to review an order compelling arbitration under the Texas Arbitration Act (TAA) as part of the appeal of a final judgment in the case. See generally Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 171.001-.098. The court of appeals concluded that mandamus was the appropriate remedy and dismissed the appeal in a memorandum opinion reasoning that, because mandamus relief had previously been denied by another court of appeals and this Court, it lacked appellate jurisdiction to review the issue. ___ S.W.3d ___. Because we disagree that the previous mandamus proceedings deprived the court of appeals of appellate jurisdiction in this matter, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case for its review on the merits.
November 23, 1999, Bob Chambers and 182 other former clients (hereinafter
“Chambers”) sued John M. O’Quinn for legal malpractice in connection with his
representation and settlement of their toxic tort claims. O’Quinn responded
with a motion to compel arbitration under the terms of a compulsory arbitration
clause in his contingency fee agreement. The trial court granted the motion,
and Chambers immediately sought review of the order by mandamus. Two courts of
appeals and this Court denied mandamus relief without discussing the merits of
Chambers’ complaint. In re Chambers, 2002 WL 24567, at
*1; In re Chambers, Cause No. 14-02-00020-CV (
After the appellate courts refused to grant any relief, the trial court directed Chambers to submit his claims to arbitration by July 9, 2004, or have them dismissed. When Chambers delayed, the trial court dismissed his suit for want of prosecution, and Chambers appealed. ___ S.W.3d at ___.
this appeal was pending, the parties proceeded to arbitration, with the
arbitrator ultimately ruling in O’Quinn’s favor. Because the trial court had
already dismissed his original action, Chambers filed a new suit to vacate the
arbitration award. The trial court, however, confirmed the arbitration award,
and Chambers perfected a second appeal from this judgment. Chambers
v. O’Quinn, 2006
Both appeals were assigned to the same panel of the First Court of Appeals, but they were not consolidated. ___ S.W.3d at ___ n.5. In two separate memorandum opinions, the court (1) affirmed the judgment of the trial court confirming the arbitration award, Chambers, 2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 9006, at *19; 2006 WL 2974318, at *6, and (2) dismissed the appeal of the order compelling arbitration on jurisdictional grounds, ___ S.W.3d at ___.
dismissing Chambers’ first appeal, the court concluded that mandamus was the
proper remedy to review an order compelling arbitration. ___ S.W.3d at ___
(citing In re Am. Homestar of Lancaster, Inc.,
50 S.W.3d 480, 483 (
the TAA, a party can appeal an order or judgment that either: (1) denies an
application to compel arbitration made under section 171.021, or (2) grants an
application to stay arbitration under section 171.023. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 171.098(a)(1),
(2). The Act is one-sided, allowing interlocutory appeals solely from orders
that deny arbitration. Similarly, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) makes no
provision for an interlocutory appeal from an order compelling arbitration. 9 U.S.C. § 16. Because the FAA does not provide for
interlocutory appeals from orders compelling arbitration, we concluded in American
Homestar and Freis
that mandamus was the appropriate remedy. See Am. Homestar,
50 S.W.3d at 483; see also Freis v. Canales,
877 S.W.2d 283, 284 (
our decision in Freis, the United States
Supreme Court has said that orders compelling arbitration can be reviewed after
final judgment in the case. Green Tree Fin. Corp. v.
The court of appeals, nevertheless, concluded that mandamus was the appropriate remedy and that the denial of mandamus relief in the Fourteenth Court of Appeals and this Court precluded it from exercising appellate jurisdiction over that issue now. ___ S.W.3d at ___. We disagree.
The writ of mandamus is a discretionary writ, and its denial, without comment on the merits, cannot deprive another appellate court from considering the matter in a subsequent appeal. See In re AIU Ins. Co., 148 S.W.3d 109, 119 (Tex. 2004) (noting that “failure to grant a petition for writ of mandamus is not an adjudication of, nor even a comment on, the merits of a case in any respect, including whether mandamus relief was available”). Thus, the court of appeals has jurisdiction to review the order compelling arbitration in this appeal.
Because the court of appeals erred in concluding that it lacked appellate jurisdiction, we grant the petition for review, and, without hearing oral argument, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case for its review on the merits. Tex. R. App. P. 59.1.
Opinion delivered: December 14, 2007