FROM THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERNON,
NO. 92421C HONORABLE SCOTT WESTERCHIL, DISTRICT JUDGE
Francis R. White FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Master Craft
C. Fontenot, Jr. FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Master Craft
J. Williams FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Pronoun, Inc.
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John D. Saunders and Candyce G.
R. COOKS JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
February 2014, the City of Lake Charles contracted with
Master Craft Construction, LLC for the construction of water
service lines. The contract between the City of Lake Charles
and Master Craft required that the work be completed within
sixty (60) days and provided for liquidated damages in the
event of non-completion within the specified time period.
connection with this contract, Master Craft entered into a
subcontract with Pronoun, Inc., to install several thousand
feet of underground water pipes. Problems arose concerning
the performance of Pronoun's duties under the
subcontract. According to Master Craft, it took Pronoun
fifteen days out of the sixty day project period to man the
job. Master Craft also found out later that Pronoun did not
have the insurance required by the subcontract, nor did it
have the capital to purchase the insurance. Pronoun also did
not have the necessary manpower or equipment to perform the
contracted work. Master Craft claimed any work done by
Pronoun was substandard and untimely. When Master Craft
terminated the job, they alleged Pronoun had already pulled
off the job to work on another project.
was not paid for any of the work it performed. In response,
Pronoun recorded a lien in Calcasieu Parish under the
Louisiana Public Works Act, La.R.S. 38:2241 et seq.
Suit to enforce the lien was subsequently filed in the
Fourteenth Judicial District Court. Upon Master Craft's
motion, the suit was stayed in the district court pursuant to
the arbitration clause set forth in the contract between
Master Craft and Pronoun.
to the terms of the contract, Master Craft initiated the
arbitration by making demand on Pronoun by certified mail on
August 27, 2015. The contract provided that each party could
select an arbitrator; and if both did so, then those two
arbitrators would select a third arbitrator to handle the
proceeding. If only one party selected an arbitrator, that
choice would be the arbitrator. Master Craft selected William
Scott Montgomery, a licensed contractor, who had previous
experience serving as an arbitrator. Pronoun did not select
an arbitrator; thus, Mr. Montgomery became the arbitrator.
September 18, 2015, counsel for Master Craft forwarded a copy
of the notice of arbitration to Pronoun's counsel.
Pronoun made no claim against Master Craft and filed no
objections to the proceedings. On October 29, 2015, the
arbitrator set the arbitration for November 18, 2015 and sent
notice to all parties.
November 12, 2015, six days before the hearing, counsel for
Pronoun sent a letter requesting the arbitration hearing be
reset as his client would be out of town on the date of the
hearing. Master Craft did not oppose the request, and the
arbitration hearing was reset for December 16, 2015. As
Master Craft noted, nothing in the letter sent by Pronoun to
the arbitrator referenced any complaint about the procedures
employed by the arbitrator, any need for further discovery or
any need for additional time to prepare.
December 1, 2015, Pronoun propounded written discovery on
Master Craft. At the request of the arbitrator, Master Craft
expedited its responses, providing answers on December 9 and
10. On December 9, 2015, at Pronoun's request, a
telephone conference was held. Pronoun requested the reset
date of December 16, 2015 be continued, claiming it had not