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Pre-Litigation Negotiations and Arbitrary Deadlines Do Not Waive Arbitration

In the case of Brown v. JC Austintown, Inc., 2023-Ohio-553, an appellate court held that an employer’s mere sending of a pre-litigation response letter to an employee to discuss the alleged facts, which was silent as to arbitration, was not inconsistent with the right to arbitrate under the circumstances in this case.

In this case, the employee argued that the employer waived arbitration when the employer did not provide the arbitration agreement in response to the employee’s pre-litigation letter. In response, the employer argued that the employer’s letter did not need to address the arbitration agreement as the employer’s response letter was limited to disputing specific facts in the employee’s letter and refused to address any legal claim, and thus. The appellate court agreed with the employer.

In support of its decision in favor of the employer, the appellate court explained that the employer was engaging in settlement negotiations and that “it is clear that [the defendant’s] engaging in settlement negotiations prior to the plaintiff’s filing of a lawsuit does not constitute waiver.” 2023-Ohio-553 at ¶ 28. The appellate court further explained that “a potential plaintiff’s placement of an arbitrary time limit on a pre-litigation letter does not translate into a definitive legal deadline by which the other party must respond in order to avoid waiving pre-existing contract rights” because “[m]ere silence will not amount to waiver where one is not bound to speak.” Id. at ¶ 29.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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