Johnson & Bell Shareholders, Garrett L. Boehm, Jr., David M. Macksey and Mark D. Belongia secured a First District Appellate ruling in favor of their clients in an investment partner dispute. Johnson & Bell filed the appeal, alleging that the trial court erred in granting defendants’ motion to compel arbitration and dismissing their clients’ claims without prejudice. The dispute involves a lawsuit Johnson & Bell filed on behalf of its investment company clients against its former partners. The complaint alleges tortious interference, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the operating agreement. Defendants argued that the dispute should be arbitrated, according to the National Futures Association Rulebook. Messrs. Boehm, Jr., Macksey and Belongia argued that their clients did not agree to arbitration and that the trial court should have ordered a stay of the court proceedings instead of dismissing all claims without prejudice. The appellate court agreed that the trial court has a duty to make a substantive determination on each claim raised by the parties regarding arbitrability of the dispute. The appellate court reversed and remanded, directing the trial court to make a factual and legal finding regarding whether an agreement to arbitrate exists between the parties in litigation. If no such agreement exists, then those claims must be litigated in a judicial forum. Messrs. Boehm, Jr. and Macksey represented Johnson & Bell’s clients through the appellate process, while Mr. Belongia is representing them at trial.