Arbitration - Part III.
B. Waiver of Right to Arbitrate
1. The right to arbitration under an agreement may be waived by taking actions inconsistent with the arbitration provision. The court (not the arbitrator) determines whether a party to an arbitration agreement has waived its contractual right to arbitration by its subsequent conduct. Florida Educ. Assoc. v. Sachs, 650 So. 2d 29 (Fla. 1995).
2. Where one party actively participates in litigation which is the subject of an arbitration agreement before moving to compel arbitration, that party is deemed to have waived any right to compel arbitration. Hansen v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 408 So. 2d 658 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982), rev. den., 417 So. 2d 328 (Fla. 1982); Ojus Indus., Inc. v. Mann., 221 So. 2d 780 (Fla. 3d DCA 1969).
3. Such a waiver will be found where the party files an answer or affirmative defenses, takes discovery or files any claim for affirmative relief in a lawsuit, including a counterclaim before moving to compel arbitration. Coral 97 Assocs., Ltd. v. Chino Elec., Inc., 501 So. 2d 69 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987); Winter v. Arvida Corp., 404 So. 2d 829 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981); but see Avid Engineering, Inc. v. Orlando Marketplace Ltd., 809 So. 2d 1 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001) (motion for arbitration and counterclaim at same time does not waive right).
4. “All questions concerning the scope or waiver of the right to arbitrate under contracts should be resolved in favor of arbitration rather than against it.” GBR3 v. Largo Dev. Corp., 807 So. 2d 723 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002), quoting Beverly Hills Dev. Corp. v. George Wimpey of Fla., Inc., 661 So. 2d 969, 971 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995).