The Greers entered into a contract with Town Construction for construction of their home. After a dispute arose regarding costs, workmanship, and other issues, Town Construction filed an arbitration demand with AAA for unpaid balances. The Greers counterclaimed for damages for repairs and diminution in home value due to construction defects, specifically alleging that their home had cracks in the walls due to Town Construction’s faulty workmanship. The arbitrator awarded damages on Town Construction’s claims and the Greers’ counterclaims. There was no evidence in the record, however, that the award had been confirmed by a court.
Three years later, the Greers discovered more cracks in the walls and filed a lawsuit in state court for damages. The trial court dismissed the claims as barred by res judicata because the Greers’ claims had already been litigated in the AAA arbitration proceeding. The Court of Appeal reversed. The court held that, under Louisiana Supreme Court precedent, an unconfirmed arbitration award is not a “valid final judgment” because it was not “rendered by [a] court” and thus has no res judicata effect. Greer v. Town Constr. Co., No. 2011 CA 1360 (La. Ct. App. Mar. 23, 2012)