Gray v. Apple, No. 1 CA-CV 21-0533 (App. Div. I, September 1, 2022) (J. Brown)
Plaintiff sued her former employer for wrongful termination and violation of a number of federal statutes in New York where the claim was dismissed for unknown reasons. She refiled in Maricopa County Superior Court. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit under rule 12(b)(6) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure—failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and on the basis of res judicata. Plaintiff appeals claiming she has a right to binding arbitration under her employment contract. The defense claimed she waived that right by bringing this lawsuit. The Arizona Court of Appeals vacates the trial court decision and remands the case.
When a contract is alleged to have a binding arbitration clause, the Arizona Superior Court must first decide if that clause controls the dispute. If it decides it does not, it may then decide the case on the merits. If it decides the arbitration clause does control the dispute it has no jurisdiction to decide the case on the merits.
This case is sent back to the trial court to determine whether binding arbitration is required and only if it determines it is not, can it decide the case on the merits.