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Force Indoor Sports L.L.C. v. Domestic Linen Supply Co., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 24, 2017

FORCE INDOOR SPORTS L.L.C., ET AL. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
v.
DOMESTIC LINEN SUPPLY CO., INC., D.B.A. DOMESTIC UNIFORM RENTAL DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-15-849957

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT James G. Kozelek Weltman Weinberg & Reis Co., L.P.A., Daniel A. Friedlander Weltman Weinberg & Reis Co., L.P.A.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES Lawrence J. Rich Zashin & Rich Co., L.P.A.

          BEFORE: Kilbane, P.J., E.T. Gallagher, J., and Celebrezze, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MARY EILEEN KILBANE, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Domestic Linen Supply Company, Inc. ("Domestic"), appeals from the trial court's denial of its motion to stay pending arbitration. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         {¶2} Plaintiffs-appellees, Force Indoor Sports L.L.C., Force Indoor Sports Fairlawn L.L.C., Force Indoor Sports Richmond L.L.C., Force Indoor Sports Rocky River L.L.C. (collectively referred to as "Force"), operate several indoor sports facilities. In November 2012, Force entered into a "rental agreement" with Domestic in which Domestic was to supply the various Force locations with soap and hand sanitizer, the dispensers, paper supplies, floormats, and other products. Paragraph 15 of the agreement provided that "[i]n the event of any controversy or claim in excess of $10, 000 arising out of or relating to [the] agreement, * * * shall be submitted to and settled by arbitration[.]"

         {¶3} Disputes between the parties arose over payments and services under the agreement. Force was dissatisfied with the quality of Domestic's services. Force addressed its concerns with Domestic. Force then gave Domestic written notice on April 23, 2015, that it was terminating the rental agreement. Thereafter, on August 5, 2015, Domestic filed a demand for arbitration seeking relief in the amount of $46, 854.77 plus 18 percent interest from April 6, 2015, and attorney fees and costs.

         {¶4} In response, Force and G.R. Rodenfels (the general manager) filed a complaint against Domestic on August 19, 2015, which it later amended in December 2015. In its amended complaint, Force sought damages in excess of $25, 000 for Domestic's alleged (1) failure to provide supplies that were required, (2) overcharging of services that were not rendered, (3) and oversupplying or undersupplying the requirements in the rental agreement. Force further sought a declaratory judgment that the arbitration clause in the agreement is unenforceable.

         {¶5} On October 12, 2015, Domestic filed a motion to stay the civil proceedings pending arbitration, which it later amended in January 2016. Force opposed, arguing that the arbitration clause was not controlling, the demand for declaratory judgment must be tried prior to arbitration, and the agreement is unconscionable. In July 2016, the trial court denied Domestic's motion to stay the proceedings pending arbitration, without opinion.

         {¶6} It is from this order Domestic appeals, raising the following single assignment of error for review.

         Assignment of Error

         The trial court erred in not staying [Force's] claims because the arbitration agreement is enforceable in conformity with Ohio's Arbitration Act[.]

         Ohio's ...


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