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Parsons v. Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.

785 S.E.2d 844 (2016)

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Parsons v. Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

785 S.E.2d 844 (2016)

Facts

Richard Parsons (plaintiff) had been employed by Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. (defendant). The parties’ employment agreement had included a contractual right to submit employment disputes to arbitration. After the end of Parsons’s employment, Parsons filed a lawsuit in court against Halliburton alleging employment violations. Not long after, Halliburton’s attorney asked Parsons’s attorney for an extension of time to answer the complaint to track down information about the claim. Halliburton’s attorney also offered to voluntarily produce discovery information after getting the information. Parsons’s attorney agreed to the extension. The same attorney later asked for a second extension, which Parsons’s attorney also granted. When Parsons’s attorney reached out in May for the promised information from Halliburton, a different lawyer responded, stating that she was now handling the case and needed time to get up to speed. In July, the new lawyer filed a motion to compel the dispute to arbitration. Parsons argued that Halliburton had waived its contractual right to compel arbitration by participating in the lawsuit for seven months before requesting arbitration. The trial court found that Halliburton had not actively participated in the lawsuit and, therefore, had not waived its right to compel arbitration. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, and Parsons appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ketchum, C.J.)

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