Case Caption: Xavier v. Grapetree Shores, INC et al. Case Number: SCT-CIV-2020-0014Date: 03/25/2024Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: 2024 VI 14Summary: In an appeal from a Superior Court order denying a motion to vacate an arbitration award in favor of the defendant/appellee Treasure Bay V.I. Corp., d/b/a Divi Carina Bay Casino, the order is affirmed on grounds other than those argued by the Appellant. Because a motion to stay litigation pending arbitration is a non-dispositive motion, the Magistrate’s Division did not err in granting the motion. Since the Superior Court possessed subject-matter jurisdiction over this case, that a magistrate judge purportedly exceeded authority by issuing a ruling on an individual motion in that case is not a jurisdictional defect, but an ordinary trial error that a party may waive. A motion to stay the proceedings and to compel arbitration is non-dispositive and not a functional equivalent of a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment, because granting such a motion leaves the Superior Court with jurisdiction to enforce the arbitration award, and the magistrate division can therefore hear a motion to compel arbitration and to stay the proceedings. The appellant’s second argument, that the defendant waived its contractual right to arbitration by actively litigating and delaying prior to moving the Superior Court to compel arbitration and stay the proceedings, has been waived by the appellant. The motion was untimely, because it was filed well beyond the expiration of the ten-day period provided under either of the rules authorizing the motion. In addition, plaintiff did not contest the magistrate judge’s conclusion that defendant did not waive its right to arbitrate. Plaintiff abandoned his waiver argument, and later simply argued that he could not afford the cost of arbitration. Subsequently, the parties consummated an agreement on the issue of the cost of the arbitration that was ostensibly suitable to plaintiff because he thereafter consented to, and, with the representation of counsel, participated in and received the benefit of a complete hearing before the arbitrator. Plaintiff has provided no argument explaining why he agreed that the defendant should shoulder the cost of arbitration – and then actually proceeded to arbitration – if he believed that defendant had waived the right for the parties to resolve their dispute via arbitration. He has therefore waived this argument on appeal. The purpose of arbitration is to provide a quick and inexpensive means to resolve claims, and there is a strong public policy favoring arbitration and for enforcement of arbitral awards. Because the Magistrate’s Division did not err when it granted Treasure Bay’s motion to compel arbitration and to stay the proceedings, which was a non-dispositive motion, and plaintiff waived his argument on appeal, the Superior Court’s January 27, 2020 order is affirmed.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion