In Re Jindal Saw Limited, No. 08-0805 (Tex. Feb. 27, 2009)(per curiam)(mandamus)
(arbitration, nonsignatories, wrongful death beneficiaries compelled to arbitrate, workplace death)
IN RE JINDAL SAW LIMITED, JINDAL ENTERPRISES LLC, AND SAW PIPES USA; from Harris County; 1st district
(01-07-01068-CV, 264 SW3d 755, 05-22-08)
stay order issued October 24, 2008, lifted
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 52.8(c), without hearing oral argument, the Court conditionally
grants the petition for writ of mandamus.
Per Curiam Opinion
In Re Jindal Saw Ltd. (Tex. 2009)(per curiam)(orig. proc)
At issue in this case is whether an arbitration agreement between a decedent and his employer
requires the employee’s wrongful death beneficiaries to arbitrate their claims against the employer. In
light of our opinion in In re Labatt Food Service, L.P., ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2009), we conclude that it
Saw Pipes USA, Inc. did not provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover its employees in the
event of on-the-job injuries. Rather, it provided a benefit plan in which its employees could elect to
participate. Attached to the benefit plan was an arbitration agreement providing that all disputes
related to either the benefit plan, the arbitration agreement, or the employee’s employment must be
submitted to binding arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
Carlos Lara, a Saw Pipes USA employee, elected to participate in the benefit plan and signed the
arbitration agreement. Lara later died from injuries that occurred while he was working. His wife and
children filed wrongful death and survival actions against Saw Pipes USA, Jindal Saw Limited, and
Jindal Enterprises LLC (collectively Saw Pipes). Saw Pipes moved to compel arbitration, asserting
that the arbitration agreement signed by Lara bound his wife and children. The trial court refused to
Saw Pipes sought a writ of mandamus from the court of appeals directing the trial court to compel
arbitration. The court of appeals held the trial court’s refusal to compel arbitration of the survival action
was a clear abuse of discretion and granted mandamus relief, but it also determined the trial court did
not abuse its discretion by refusing to compel arbitration of the wrongful death claims. 264 S.W.3d
755, 757. The court of appeals did not have the benefit of our holding in In re Labatt Food Service,
when it considered Saw Pipes’s petition. In Labatt, we held that a decedent’s pre-death arbitration
agreement binds his or her wrongful death beneficiaries because under Texas law the wrongful death
cause of action is entirely derivative of the decedent’s rights. In re Labatt, ___ S.W.3d at ___; see
Russell v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., 841 S.W.2d 343, 345 (Tex. 1992).
Saw Pipes seeks a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to compel arbitration of the wrongful
death claims. A party denied the right to arbitrate pursuant to an agreement subject to the FAA does
not have an adequate remedy by appeal and is entitled to mandamus relief to correct a clear abuse of
discretion. In re L & L Kempwood Assocs., L.P., 9 S.W.3d 125, 128 (Tex. 1999). In this case, the
arbitration agreement executed by Lara provides that any disputes related to the benefit plan or to his
employment with Saw Pipes must be arbitrated. Pursuant to the agreement, if Lara had sued for his
own injuries immediately prior to his death, he would have been compelled to arbitrate his claims.
Accordingly, his beneficiaries must arbitrate. See In re Labatt, ___ S.W.3d at ___. The trial court
clearly abused its discretion by refusing to compel arbitration.
We grant Saw Pipes’s petition for writ of mandamus and without hearing oral argument, conditionally
grant mandamus relief. See Tex. R. App. P. 52.8(c). The trial court is directed to enter an order
compelling arbitration of the beneficiaries’ wrongful death claims. We are confident the trial court will
comply, and the writ will issue only if it fails to do so.
OPINION DELIVERED: February 27, 2009