Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Vintson

In Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Vintson, 753 So. 2d 497 (Ala. 1999) the Court wrote: "The Vintsons, relying on Ex parte Discount Foods, Inc., 711 So. 2d 992 (Ala. 1998) (plurality) (stating that an arbitration provision was not broad enough to include intentional-tort claims), argue that they should not be required to arbitrate their intentional-tort claims. The Vintsons' reliance on Discount Foods is misplaced. Whether an arbitration provision encompasses a party's claims 'is a matter of contract interpretation, which interpretation is guided by the intent of the parties, and which intent, absent ambiguity in the clause, is evidenced by the plain language of the clause.' Allied-Bruce Terminix Cos. v. Dobson, 684 So. 2d 102, 110 (Ala. 1995). The language of the arbitration provision in this case is not ambiguous. Under the plain language of the provision, the Vintsons agreed to arbitrate all disputes 'arising from or relating to' the contract. 'This Court has held that where a contract signed by the parties contains a valid arbitration clause that applies to claims "arising out of or relating to" the contract, that clause has a broader application than an arbitration clause that refers only to claims "arising from" the agreement.' Reynolds & Reynolds Co. v. King Automobiles, Inc., 689 So. 2d 1, 2-3 (Ala. 1996). All of the Vintsons' claims -that Green Tree fraudulently induced them to purchase a mobile home, that it violated the Alabama Mini-Code, and that it breached its agreement to pay off several preexisting debts -- arise from or relate to the installment contract. ... Accordingly, the plain language of the arbitration provision encompasses the Vintsons' claims." (753 So. 2d at 504-05.)