Arbitration Provision Applied to Post-Termination Tort Claims

Women’s Care Specialists, P.C. v. Dr. Margot Potter; Drs. Kennedy and Barron, et al. v. Dr. Margot Potter, [Ms. SC-2022-0706; SC-2022-0707, May 19, 2023] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2023). The Court (Cook, J.; Parker, C.J., and Wise, Sellers, and Stewart, JJ., concur) reverses the Jefferson Circuit Court’s order denying motions to compel arbitration of tort claims filed by Dr. Margot Potter against her former employer Women’s Care Specialists, P.C. (“Women’s Care”), and three Women’s Care employees – Dr. Karla Kennedy, Dr. Elizabeth Barron, and Beth Ann Dorsett (“the WC employees”).

Potter agreed in Section 22.2 of her amended employment agreement that “‘any and all disputes related in any manner whatsoever to [her] employment’” would be resolved by arbitration and that “‘[d]isputes relating to employment include, but are not limited to, … claims based upon tort or contract laws or any other federal or state law affecting employment in any manner whatsoever.’” Ms. *5.

Potter conceded that her breach of contract claim against Women’s Care was within the clause but argued her tort claims arose from actions taken after her employment ended, and those claims were not subject to arbitration. The Court disagrees and holds “Potter and Women’s Care expressly agreed in Section 17 of the amended employment agreement that the termination of their agreement – whether through termination of Potter’s employment or otherwise – “shall not affect any liability or any other obligation of either party to the other which may have accrued prior to such termination.” (Emphasis added.) ... [B]ecause Potter and Women’s Care specifically agreed that any obligations they owed to one another – including the obligation to arbitrate any disputes related to Potter’s employment – would not terminate upon the expiration or termination of the agreement, Potter’s tort claims against Women’s Care and the WC employees are still subject to arbitration regardless of when her employment with Women’s Care ended.” Ms. **18-19.

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