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Morales v. Sun Constructors, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Morales sued Sun Constructors, Inc. for wrongful termination despite signing an arbitration agreement prior to employment with Sun Constructors.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Acceptance of a contract is evidenced by a party’s outward expression of assent.

    Facts.

    Despite being Spanish-speaking, Morales, an employee of Sun Constructors, Inc. (Sun), attended an orientation conducted in English and was required to sign an hurly employment agreement. Hodge, another applicant who was fluent in both English and Spanish, explained to Morales what was occurring at the orientation and helped Morales complete the required paperwork. The paperwork included an arbitration agreement that Hodge did not explain to Morales. When Morales was sued a year later, Morales sued Sun for wrongful termination. Sun filed a motion to stay the proceedings while arbitration proceedings were impending, and the trial court dismissed the motion. Sun appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether acceptance of a contract is evidenced by a party’s outward expression of assent?

    Held.

    Yes. The district court’s judgment is reversed. Morales is bound by the arbitration provisions because Morales did not seek to have the contract translated or obtain a copy of the contract. It is clear that Sun did not seek to hide the arbitration provisions because the arbitration agreement comprised over half of the contract.

    Discussion.

    If a person who does not speak English signs a contract, the party is still bound by the contract as long as the contract was not procured by fraud. If no fraud exists, a party, regardless of a language barrier, must ensure his own understanding of the contract.


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