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153413 - Nexteer Automotive Group v Mando America Corp

Nexteer Automotive Corporation,
 
John F. Birmingham, Jr.
 
Plaintiff-Appellee,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Saginaw – Jurrens, M.R.)
 
Mando America Corporation, Tony Dodak, Theodore G. Seeger, Tomy Sebastion, Christian Ross, Kevin Ross, Abraham Gebregeris, Ramakrishnan Raja Venkitasubramony, Troy Strieter, Jeremy J. Warmbier, and Scott Wendling,
 
Mary Massaron
 
Defendants-Appellants.
 

Summary

Nexteer Automotive and Mando America both manufacture steering systems. In 2013, they entered into an agreement that contained an arbitration agreement. Nexteer eventually sued Mando.  A case management order included a checked box that indicated that “[a]n agreement to arbitrate this controversy . . . exists” but “is not applicable.” Mando subsequently requested arbitration of the dispute, contending that the checked box was not a waiver, and even if it was, Nexteer was not prejudiced by the late request to arbitrate. The trial court concluded that the arbitration provision was enforceable and had not been waived by Mando, but in a published opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed. It held that the box checked “not applicable” constituted a stipulation by Mando that expressly waived arbitration, even in the absence of prejudice to Nexteer. The Supreme Court ordered oral argument on the application, asking the parties to address:  (1) whether a party asserting an express waiver of a right to arbitrate must demonstrate that it was prejudiced by the actions of the party asserting that right; and if not, (2) whether the case management order in this case constituted an express waiver of the right of Mando to arbitrate.