Sindler v. Batleman, No. 79-75.

Docket NºNo. 79-135.
Citation416 A.2d 238
Case DateJune 03, 1980
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District

Page 238

416 A.2d 238
Abraham M. SINDLER, Appellant,
Joseph S. BATLEMAN, et ux., Appellees.
Joseph S. BATLEMAN, et ux., Appellants,
Abraham M. SINDLER, Appellee.
No. 79-75.
No. 79-135.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued February 7, 1980.
Decided June 3, 1980.

Page 239

William J. Fitzgerald, Washington, D. C., for appellant in No. 79-75 and appellee in No. 79-135.

Steven M. Paysner, Washington, D. C., for appellees in No. 79-75 and appellants in No. 79-135.

Before GALLAGHER, HARRIS and PRYOR, Associate Judges.

PRYOR, Associate Judge:

This litigation arose out of a dispute between joint owners of certain real property utilized for rental purposes. At issue is whether an arbitrator exceeded his authority in making an Award. Finding the arbitrator's Award was within the scope of his authority, we conclude that the trial judge did not err in denying the motion to vacate the Award.1 We, therefore, affirm.

In June 1965, Abraham Sindler and Joseph Batleman entered into a Joint Venture Agreement, as tenants in common of property owned in the District of Columbia (herein referred to as High View Agreement), to build thereon a thirty-six unit apartment building, and to thereafter maintain and operate the same. The Agreement provided in pertinent part, that each would share equally the profits and losses, management and control of the project, and that no decisions with respect to the property could be made without the consent of both Sindler and Batleman, as trustees of the property. Clause 16 of the Agreement provided:

ARBITRATION: Except as otherwise provided, any controversy or claim arising out of or resulting from this Agreement, or the breach thereof, shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association, and judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof.

In November 1965, Sindler and Batleman entered into a second Joint Venture Agreement, as tenants in common of another lot located in the District of Columbia (herein referred to as Iowa Agreement), to build a three-unit apartment building on said property. This Agreement was substantially identical to the High View Agreement. Clause 16 of Agreement, "ARBITRATION," is identical to the above-quoted language.

Batleman alleges that yet another Joint Venture Agreement was entered into with Sindler in August 1967 (herein referred to as First Street Agreement). This Agreement was not produced at arbitration or trial. Sindler denies the existence of such an Agreement.

Sometime after the above Agreements were entered into, Sindler absented himself from the area, leaving Batleman with no forwarding address and no direct means of contacting him. Sindler did avail himself to Batleman through an agent located in the District of Columbia. Thereafter, Batleman assumed the role of managing partner and began performing all managerial and administrative tasks incident to efficient operation of the apartment complexes. This role was assumed by Batleman without the consent of Sindler. It is the contention of Batleman that he did, however, apprise Sindler's agent of all actions taken relative to the properties, and regularly sent him an accounting of all monies received and spent. As managing partner, Batleman retained the services of Jerome Friedlander, Capital City Realty, Inc., to serve as rental agent for the properties owned jointly by the parties. Capital City collected the rents from the properties as per instructions, and held

Page 240

a portion of the same in a reserve fund for the maintenance and operation of the apartment buildings.

For three and one-half years, Capital City Realty collected and retained security deposits of the tenants, and a portion of the rents representing estimated operating costs. On December 6, 1974, without first discussing the matter with Batleman, and having had no direct communication with Batleman since his disappearance, Sindler, through his attorney, sent a letter to Capital City Realty demanding that it disburse all rental income which it had acquired from the property owned jointly by Batleman and Sindler. The rental agent did not disburse the money, but rather, sent a copy of the letter to Batleman who responded by instructing the rental agent to "maintain the status quo" until Sindler and Batleman could reach agreement on the amount of money to disburse, and the amount to keep in reserve for maintenance and management of the properties.

Unable to reach agreement, pursuant to Clause 16 of the Agreements, set out, supra, Batleman demanded arbitration. The following matters were submitted by the parties to be the subject of arbitration:


Validity and reasonableness of a contingency reserve set up for repairs of the properties and replacement of equipment and the setting aside of a reasonable amount of operating capital, both as to past and future amounts; authority of agent Capital City Realty, Inc. to continue handling the properties; the disposition of past and future security deposits; affirm authority of Joseph Batleman to act as managing partner since he is available in this area and the amount of compensation for past and future managerial activities to be allowed; award of costs of this arbitration, expenses and counsel fees for filing this Arbitration and handling law suit filed by Mr. Sindler since claimants are acting as trustees for the Joint-Ventures Partnerships. (Attached Addendum incorporated herein by reference.)


Messrs. Joseph L. Batleman and Abraham Sindler are Trustees under the following Joint Ventures, all of which contain identical arbitration clauses, to wit:

2352, 2356 & 2360 High Street, S.E., Washington, D.C., hereinafter referred to as the High View Joint Venture Agreement dated 24 June 1965

4701 Iowa Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., hereinafter referred to as the Iowa Joint Venture Agreement dated 8 November 1965

5509 First Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., dated August 1967

Copies of Agreements as to High Street and Iowa Avenue attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference.

Joseph L. Batleman and his wife, Barbara R. Batleman, own a one-half interest, as tenants by the entirety, in each of the joint ventures, and Abraham Sindler and his wife, Marilyn Sindler, own a one-half interest as tenants by the entirety in the other half. However, the entire property owned by these parties is owned as tenants in common as between themselves. Messrs. Batleman and Sindler acting as Trustees for each of the joint ventures.

Substantial disagreements between the partners have arisen necessitating this arbitration. In addition to claims set forth in the Nature of the Dispute and Claim for Relief Sought above, these differences include, but are not limited to Mr. Sindler's leaving the area, refusing to reveal his whereabouts, until he filed suit against the Rental Agent for the properties on January 14, 1975, which lists his address as 9056 Carlyle Avenue, Surfside, Florida, failing to cooperate in decisions necessarily to be made by the Trustees for the profitable operation of the properties, insisting that any actions be done through an intermediary, which makes the completion of essential activities in a prompt, businesslike manner extremely difficult and at times impossible.

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Both parties appeared before an arbitrator and were represented by counsel. Each of the above issues was raised. Having heard the allegations of the parties, the arbitrator, on December 1, 1975, issued an Award providing, in sum, that the High View and Iowa Joint Venture Agreements were valid and binding; that though no written document was ever produced evidencing the same, the property owned by the parties at First Street was subject to the terms of the arbitration proceedings; that Batleman was to continue acting as managing partner and receive compensation for his services; that a repair and contingency reserve fund should be established; that all security deposits received from tenants should be retained in escrow as required by D.C.Law, and not considered "available money"; and that costs should be assessed against Sindler.


While arbitration was pending, Sindler brought suit against Capital City Realty, Inc., its president,...

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    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
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