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Case No. 21-1622

Titan Pro Sci, Inc.
v.
Eric Muff, Dan Fulton and New Ag Basics, LLC

Appellee

Titan Pro Sci, Inc.

Appellant

Eric Muff, Dan Fulton and New Ag Basics, LLC

Attorney for the Appellee

Stephanie A. Koltookian and Martin J. Demoret

Attorney for the Appellant

Joseph G. Gamble

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
21-1622
Date Published:
Oct 05, 2022
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hancock County, DeDra Schroeder, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (20 pages)

            Titan Pro SCI, Inc. (Titan) brought a lawsuit against former employees Dan Fulton and Eric Muff, who created New Ag Basics, LLC (collectively, the appellants), and others.  The appellants moved to compel arbitration, relying on arbitration provisions in both a purchase agreement and mutual general release between just Fulton and Titan.  The district court denied the motion, which the appellants challenge.  They argue the court wrongly concluded Titan’s claims against them do not fall within the scope of the two arbitration clauses.  More specifically, they claim the district court improperly placed the burden on them to prove that the claims were suitable for arbitration—rather than placing the burden on Titan to prove the claims were not suitable; Titan’s legal claims “touch on” matters covered by the broad arbitration provisions, which is enough to compel arbitration; and Muff and New Ag Basics, LLC have a sufficiently close relationship to Fulton to enforce the arbitration provisions in agreements Fulton entered into with Titan.  The appellants ask us to dismiss Titan’s lawsuit with prejudice or, in the alternative, stay it pending arbitration.  OPINION HOLDS: The arbitration clauses in the purchase agreement and mutual general release are not susceptible to an interpretation that covers Titan’s claims under breach-of-contract or any tort theories.  Therefore, we agree with the district court’s denial of the appellants’ motion to compel arbitration.

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