Premiere Chevrolet v. Headrick

In Premiere Chevrolet v. Headrick, 748 So. 2d 891 (Ala. 1999), Headrick signed an agreement to lease an automobile from Premiere Chevrolet, and he signed a "buyer's order" with an arbitration clause that provided: (1) "this order is not valid unless signed and accepted by Premiere Chevrolet, Inc." and (2) "this order shall not become binding until accepted by the dealer or his authorized representative." Id. at 893. Premiere's representative signed the lease agreement, but not the buyer's order. Id. at 892. Headrick subsequently filed suit against Premiere, alleging fraud and breach of contract, and Premiere moved to compel arbitration. Id. at 893. The trial court initially granted the dealership's motion, but, after Headrick's motion for reconsideration, it "set aside the order compelling arbitration." Id. On appeal, the parties made arguments similar to the arguments made here. Premiere argued that Headrick "should be compelled to arbitrate her claims in accordance with the buyer's order which she signed . . . ." Id. Headrick argued "that, because the buyer's order was never signed by any agent of Premiere and thus was never fully executed, no agreement to arbitrate ever came into existence." Id. The Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the trial court's order denying the motion to compel arbitration. Id. at 896. The court stated that the language of the buyer's order, that "this order is not valid unless signed and accepted by Premiere Chevrolet, Inc.," required Premiere's signature "to make a contract of the document." Id. at 894. The Supreme Court concluded that, because "no signature for Premiere or its agent appeared anywhere on the buyer's order," "the trial judge was correct in ruling that there was no enforceable agreement to arbitrate." Id. at 894; id. at 897 ("Premiere's signature on the buyer's order was an express condition precedent to the existence of a contract.") (See, J., concurring).