William R. Carroll, M.D., et al.
Paul F. Castellanos, M.D.
from Jefferson Circuit Court (CV-17-904011).
R. Carroll, M.D., Loring Rue, M.D., and Gustavo R. Heudebert,
M.D. (hereinafter referred to collectively as "the
individual defendants"), appeal from the Jefferson
Circuit Court's order denying their motion to compel
arbitration of claims asserted against them by Paul F.
Castellanos, M.D. We reverse and remand.
September 22, 2017, Dr. Castellanos filed this action against
six named defendants and other fictitiously named defendants.
The named defendants included the University of Alabama
Health Services Foundation, P.C. ("UAHSF"), the
Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama ("the
Board"),  the University of Alabama Birmingham
Health System Board of Directors, and the individual
defendants. Dr. Castellanos alleged that he was an
"internationally recognized" physician with a
specialty practice as a "laryngologist and
bronchoesophagologist (airway surgeon)" who was
"recruited to come to the University of Alabama at
Birmingham in 2005 to establish a center of excellence for
the treatment of voice and aero digestive disorders at
University of Alabama, Birmingham Academic and Medical
Center" ("UAB Medical Center"). UAHSF and Dr.
Castellanos executed a "Physician Employment
Contract" describing the details of his employment at
UAB Medical Center ("the employment contract"). The
employment contract contained the following arbitration
"(14) Any controversy or claim, arising out of, or
relating to, this Agreement, or the breach thereof, shall be
settled by arbitration in the City of Birmingham, Alabama in
accordance with the rules then obtaining of the American
Arbitration Association, and judgment upon award rendered may
be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof."
respect to the individual defendants, Dr. Castellanos alleged
that Dr. Carroll was "clearly envious or concerned that
his own care for patients with similar complexity to the
patient population for Dr. Castellanos was not as successful
as that of Dr. Castellanos." Dr. Castellanos alleged
that, after Dr. Carroll became interim chairman of the ENT
Department at UAB Medical Center, Dr. Carroll engaged in a
series of actions designed toward "mak[ing] Dr.
Castellanos' life at UAB [Medical Center] so miserable
that he ha[d] to leave." Dr. Castellanos alleged that
Dr. Rue and Dr. Heudebert assisted in this plan. Dr.
Castellanos also asserted that all the defendants, including
UAHSF "through its agents and employees," conspired
to make Dr. Castellanos want to leave his employment at UAB
Medical Center. Specifically, against Dr. Carroll, Dr.
Castellanos asserted claims of "intentional infliction
of severe mental anguish -- outrageous conduct,"
"defamation," and "invasion of privacy --
false light." Against all the individual defendants, Dr.
Castellanos asserted a claim of "intentional
interference with contractual and business relations,"
and he alleged that all the defendants, including UAHSF
"through its agents and employees," conspired in
the commission of the tort-of-outrage, defamation, and
November 1, 2017, the Board filed a motion to dismiss in
which it asserted that it was entitled to immunity under Art.
1, § 14, Ala. Const. 1901. No other defendant joined the
same date, all the defendants other than the Board filed a
motion to compel arbitration as to all claims asserted
against them by Dr. Castellanos. The motion was based on the
arbitration provision contained in the employment contract.
The individual defendants contended that they could enforce
the arbitration provision even though they were not
signatories to the employment contract because, they
reasoned, the individual defendants were also employees of
UAHSF and Dr. Castellanos had alleged that all the defendants
had conspired in committing the alleged torts.
Castellanos did not oppose the motion to compel arbitration.
In his brief to this Court, Dr. Castellanos asserts that he
failed to file a response because "[t]he trial court
issued its order compelling arbitration between the
contracting parties ... before [Dr. Castellanos] had an
opportunity to oppose the motion." Dr. Castellanos's
brief, pp. 7-8.
November 15, 2017, the circuit court entered an order
compelling arbitration of Dr. Castellanos's claims
against UAHSF and the Board (even though the Board had not
joined the motion to compel) but denying arbitration of his
claims against the individual defendants. The circuit court
refused to compel arbitration of the claims against the
individual defendants because "the aforementioned
Physician Employment Contract does not include an arbitration
clause applicable to ... William R. Carroll, M.D., Loring
Rue, M.D., and Gustavo R. Heudebert, M.D."
following day, November 16, 2017, the individual defendants
appealed the circuit court's judgment. On the same date,
the individual defendants filed a motion to stay the
underlying action pending the appeal, a motion the circuit
court granted on November 20, 2017.
Standard of Review
"'This Court reviews de novo the denial of
a motion to compel arbitration. Parkway Dodge, Inc. v.
Yarbrough, 779 So.2d 1205 (Ala. 2000). A motion to
compel arbitration is analogous to a motion for a summary
judgment. TranSouth Fin. Corp. v. Bell, 739 So.2d
1110, 1114 (Ala. 1999). The party seeking to compel
arbitration has the burden of proving the existence of a
contract calling for arbitration and proving that the
contract evidences a transaction affecting interstate
commerce. Id. "[A]fter a motion to compel
arbitration has been made and supported, the burden is on the
non-movant to present evidence that the supposed arbitration
agreement is not valid or does not apply ...