Patricia Whitelock, appellant, v. LLC

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Patricia Whitelock, appellant, v. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, et al., respondents.

2010–09064 (Index No. 32302/09)

Decided: March 29, 2011

JOSEPH COVELLO, J.P. THOMAS A. DICKERSON RANDALL T. ENG SANDRA L. SGROI, JJ. Mahler & Harris, P.C., Kew Gardens, N.Y. (Stephen R. Mahler of counsel), for appellant. Lubiner & Schmidt, LLC, New York, N.Y. (John E. Jenkins of counsel), for respondents.

Argued—February 28, 2011


In an action, inter alia, to recover damages for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Brathwaite- Nelson, J.), entered August 12, 2010, which granted the defendants' motion to stay the action and compel arbitration.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with costs.

“[I]n the commercial context generally, the rule is clear that unless the agreement to arbitrate expressly and unequivocally encompasses the subject matter of the particular dispute, a party cannot be compelled to forego the right to seek judicial relief and instead submit to arbitration” (Bowmer v. Bowmer, 50 N.Y.2d 288, 293–294;  see Sammarco v Pepsi–Cola Bottling Co. of N.Y., 1 AD3d 341, 342;  Computer Assoc.   Intl. v. Com–Tech Assoc., 239 A.D.2d 379, 380–381).   The burden of proof is on the party seeking arbitration (see Matter of Allstate Ins. Co. v Roseboro, 247 A.D.2d 379, 380;  Matter of American Centennial Ins. Co. v Williams, 233 A.D.2d 320).   Here, the defendants satisfied their burden of establishing the existence of a valid agreement to arbitrate which expressly and unequivocally encompassed the subject matter of the plaintiff's claims (see Bowmer v. Bowmer, 50 N.Y.2d at 293–294;  Matter of Allstate Ins. Co. v. Roseboro, 247 A.D.2d at 380).   Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly granted the defendants' motion to stay the action and compel arbitration.



Matthew G. Kiernan

Clerk of the Court

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