FROHBERG ELECTRIC COMPANY, INC., A NEBRASKA CORPORATION, APPELLEE,
GROSSENBURG IMPLEMENT, INC., A NEBRASKA CORPORATION, AND KIEHM CONSTRUCTION, INCNC., A MINNNNESOTA CORPORATION, APPELLANTS.
Contracts. The meaning of a contract and whether a contract
is ambiguous are questions of law.
Arbitration and Award. Arbitrability presents a question of
Judgments: Appeal and Error. When reviewing questions of law,
an appellate court resolves the questions independently of
the lower court's conclusions.
Arbitration and Award: Contracts: Appeal and Error. Where an
issue concerns the formation or existence of an arbitration
agreement and not its validity, enforceability, or scope, an
appellate court applies state law.
Arbitration and Award: Federal Acts: Contracts. The Federal
Arbitration Act's application is triggered only if a
contract involving interstate commerce actually contains an
Arbitration and Award: Federal Acts: Contracts: States. In a
contract involving interstate commerce, the equal-treatment
principle of the Federal Arbitration Act applies in
determining whether a valid arbitration agreement exists:
States may not apply a state rule discriminating against
arbitration and are required to place arbitration agreements
on equal footing with all other contracts.
Contracts. In interpreting a contract, a court must first
determine, as a matter of law, whether the contract is
contract written in clear and unambiguous language is not
subject to interpretation or construction and must be
enforced according to its terms.
Contracts: Words and Phrases. A contract is ambiguous when a
word, phrase, or provision in the contract has, or is
susceptible of, at least two reasonable but conflicting
interpretations or meanings.
Neb. 357]10. Arbitration and Award: Federal Acts: Contracts.
If a contract containing an arbitration clause involves
interstate commerce, the Federal Arbitration Act governs the
Contracts: States: Words and Phrases. Contracts involving
interstate commerce include contracts for services between
parties of different states.
Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not obligated to
engage in an analysis that is not necessary to adjudicate the
case and controversy before it.
from the District Court for Wayne County: James G. Kube,
Judge. Reversed and remanded with directions.
Timothy Engler, of Rembolt Ludtke, L.L.R, for appellants.
E. Copple and Michelle M. Schlecht, of Copple, Rockey,
McKeever & Schlecht, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch,
and Funke, JJ.
an appeal from an order denying a motion to compel
arbitration of a construction dispute. A subcontractor sued
the project's owner and general contractor, which in turn
sought to compel arbitration. The appeal turns on whether the
subcontract effectively incorporated a mandatory arbitration
clause from the general contract, thereby mandating the
subcontractor to arbitrate. Because we conclude that it did,
we reverse, and remand with directions.
and Governing Contracts
Implement, Inc. (Owner), a Nebraska corporation, executed a
standard form contract (the general [297 Neb. 358] contract)
with Kiehm Construction, Inc. (Contractor), a Minnesota
corporation, for the construction of several structures on
Owner's property in Wayne County, Nebraska. The general
contract included a mandatory arbitration clause for
"any Claim . . . not resolved by mediation pursuant to
[the general conditions].''
then subcontracted with Frohberg Electric Company, Inc.
(Subcontractor), a Nebraska corporation, to provide
electrical services and materials in constructing the
structures. The subcontract referenced the existence of the
general contract and stated, "Contractor has made
available to . . . Subcontractor all of the above ...