Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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Plaintiff appealed a judgment confirming an arbitration award in favor of defendant, whom she sued for medical malpractice. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment, holding that the trial court properly granted the motion to compel arbitration where plaintiff failed to show error in the trial court's implicit finding that the Arbitration Agreement satisfied the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 1295, subdivision (b); plaintiff failed to show error in the trial court's implicit finding that plaintiff read and understood the Arbitration Agreements; and plaintiff failed to show error in the trial court's finding that defendant did not waive his right to arbitration. The court also held that the trial court properly confirmed the Arbitration Award where plaintiff's objection to the arbitrator's disclosures was untimely; the arbitrator's ex parte communications with defendant's counsel were insufficient to justify vacating the award; and plaintiff failed to present properly on appeal her additional arguments in support of vacating the award and they lacked merit. Finally, the court held that the trial court properly reconsidered the order vacating the award. View "Cox v. Bonni" on Justia Law

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Ramos, an experienced litigator and patent practitioner with a doctorate in biophysics, was hired as a Winston law firm “Income Partner.” After allegedly being denied recognition for her work, excluded from opportunities for career advancement, evaluated based on the success of her male colleagues, and denied compensation and bonuses to which she was entitled, Ramos sued, asserting discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and anti-fair-pay practices. Winston moved to compel arbitration under the partnership agreement Ramos signed after joining the firm. Ramos argued she was an “employee,” not a partner, so that precedent (Armendariz) applied and that the arbitration provision failed to meet Armendariz's minimum requirements arbitration of unwaivable statutory claims. The trial court found that Ramos was “in a partnership relationship” for purposes of the motion, severed provisions related to venue and cost-sharing, and granted Winston’s motion. The court of appeal reversed. Under the Armendariz analysis, the agreement is unconscionable and the taint of illegality cannot be removed by severing the unlawful provisions without altering the nature of the parties’ agreement. Provisions requiring Ramos to pay half the costs of arbitration, pay her own attorney fees, restricting the ability of the arbitrators to “override” or “substitute its judgment” for that of the partnership, and the confidentiality clause, are unconscionable and significantly inhibit Ramos’s ability to pursue her unwaivable statutory claims. View "Ramos v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Levandowski and Ron started working at Google in 2007. Both resigned from Google in 2016. After leaving, they formed Otto, a self-driving technology company which Google considered a competitor of its own self-driving car project. In August 2016, Otto was acquired by Uber. In October 2016, Google initiated arbitration proceedings against Levandowski and Ron for allegedly breaching non-solicitation and non-competition agreements. The arbitration was scheduled to commence in April 2018. Google sought discovery from Uber, a nonparty to the arbitration, related to pre-acquisition due diligence done by Stroz at the request of Uber and Otto’s outside counsel. Over Uber’s objections, the arbitration panel determined the due diligence documents were not protected by either the attorney client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine and ordered them produced. Uber initiated a special proceeding in superior court seeking to vacate the discovery order and prevailed. The court of appeal reversed the superior court’s order. The due diligence-related documents prepared by Stroz were not protected attorney-client communications nor were they entitled to absolute protection from disclosure under the attorney work product doctrine. Although the materials had qualified protection as work product, denial of the materials would unfairly prejudice Google’s preparation of its claims. View "Uber Technologies, Inc. v. Google LLC" on Justia Law

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The Association represents San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers. The Commission prescribes and enforces SFPD regulations. The agreement between the two gives the Association the right to notice and an opportunity to meet and confer regarding “any proposed change in general orders or other matters within the scope of representation.” The Commission announced that it planned to revise SFPD’s use of force policy and began meeting with stakeholders. In response to the Association's request that the city confer regarding the proposed policy, the city stated that "the policy is a managerial right outside the scope of bargaining" but agreed to meet once the new policy was approved, “to consider negotiable impacts.” A draft policy was prepared. Disagreement remained regarding provisions that prohibited police use of the carotid restraint and strictly prohibiting officers from shooting at moving vehicles. The Commission adopted the policy. The city met nine times with the Association then declared an impasse. The Association filed a grievance, alleging failure to negotiate in good faith. The city concluded that remaining areas of disagreement were management rights, outside the scope of representation, including the prohibition against shooting at moving vehicles and the ban on carotid restraint. The court of appeal affirmed denial of the Association’s motion to compel arbitration. The parties did not agree to subject the city’s determinations regarding the revised use of force policy to arbitration. View "San Francisco Police Officers' Association. v. San Francisco Police Commission" on Justia Law

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After attempting to persuade the Tribe to pay him for services provided under construction and rental agreements, Findleton requested that the Tribe mediate and arbitrate pursuant to clauses in the agreements. The Tribe failed to respond. Findleton filed a petition in March 2012, in the Mendocino County Superior Court to compel mediation and arbitration. The court held the Tribe had not waived its sovereign immunity. The Tribe sought attorney fees it had incurred in defending against Findleton’s petition, which the superior court granted. The court of appeal remanded, finding the Tribe had waived its sovereign immunity, reversing the award of fees. On remand, Findleton again filed a petition to compel mediation and arbitration and sought contractual attorney fees he had incurred in the prior appellate proceedings. The Tribe did not oppose the fee motion on the merits but requested that the court defer ruling until the Tribe filed a demurrer challenging the court’s jurisdiction. The superior court rejected that request and granted Findleton’s motion, awarding costs ($4,591.79) and attorney fees ($28,148.75). The court of appeal affirmed. The Tribe has not demonstrated that tribal remedy exhaustion was required here nor would requiring exhaustion at this late date serve any purpose other than further delay of a case that is already six years old. View "Findleton v. Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Branches Neighborhood Corporation, a community association incorporated pursuant to the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, filed an arbitration claim against the association’s developer, defendant CalAtlantic Group, Inc., formerly known as Standard Pacific Corp. (Standard), for construction defects. The arbitrator granted summary judgment in Standard’s favor, concluding the association did not receive the consent of its members to file the claim until after the claim was filed, in violation of its declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). The trial court subsequently denied the association’s motion to vacate the award, concluding the court had no power to review the arbitrator’s decision. Branches argued on appeal the trial court incorrectly denied its motion to vacate because the arbitrator exceeded its powers by abridging an unwaivable statutory right or public policy. Finding no such right or policy, the Court of Appeal determined the plain language of the CC&Rs controlled. The Court therefore affirmed the judgment. View "Branches Neighborhood Corp. v. CalAtlantic Group, Inc.," on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Alfredo Fuentes entered into a written agreement with defendant TMCSF, Inc., doing business as Riverside Harley-Davidson (Riverside), to buy a motorcycle. At the same time, he entered into a written agreement with Eaglemark Savings Bank (Eaglemark) to finance the purchase. The loan agreement included an arbitration clause; the purchase agreement did not. Fuentes then filed suit against Riverside, alleging that Riverside made various misrepresentations and violated various statutes in connection with the sale of the motorcycle. Riverside petitioned to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the petition. The Court of Appeal held Riverside was not entitled to compel arbitration because it was not a party to the arbitration clause, it was not acting in the capacity of an agent of a party to the arbitration clause, and it was not a third party beneficiary of the arbitration clause. Moreover, Fuentes was not equitably estopped to deny Riverside’s claimed right to compel arbitration. View "Fuentes v. TMCSF, Inc." on Justia Law

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Busick, who worked as a Massachusetts Instacart shopper and driver, filed a class action arbitration demand on behalf of herself and similarly situated Massachusetts shoppers and drivers, claiming that Instacart violated California law by classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees. The parties' Independent Contractor Agreement stated that disputes would be submitted to binding arbitration, applying California substantive law and “[a]ny action to review the arbitration award for legal error or to have it confirmed, corrected or vacated” would be decided under California law by a California state court. The parties submitted to the arbitrator the threshold issue whether the Agreement allowed Busick to seek certification of a claimant class within the arbitration. In a “Partial Final Award,” the arbitrator answered in the affirmative, stating that her ruling “determines only that [Busick] may move for class certification as part of the mandated arbitration. It does not address the appropriateness of such certification, nor the underlying claim.” Instacart filed a petition to vacate. The court of appeal affirmed that the superior court lacked jurisdiction. The California Arbitration Act allows a party to an arbitration to petition the superior court to confirm, correct or vacate an arbitrator’s “award,” an award that must be set out in writing and “include a determination of all the questions submitted to the arbitrators the decision of which is necessary in order to determine the controversy.” The arbitrator’s ruling was not an award. View "Maplebear v. Busick" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's order denying a petition to vacate an arbitration award and granting a petition to confirm it. In this case, the arbitrator did not comply with several applicable disclosure requirements, which gave rise to multiple grounds for disqualification. The court held that the arbitrator was actually aware of at least one of the grounds for disqualification, and thus the resulting arbitration award was subject to vacatur. The court held that, by not disclosing the four pending arbitration with counsel for Chase, the arbitrator violated the continuing disclosure duties under Ethics standard 7(d). View "Honeycutt v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's order denying Atria's petition to compel arbitration. The court held that the integration clause in an agreement the parties signed did not preclude proof of the arbitration agreement. The trial court made no findings regarding either substantive or procedural unconscionability because it found the integration clause to be dispositive. Therefore, the court remanded to the trial court with directions to consider other objections raised by respondents to the arbitration agreement. View "Williams v. Atria Las Posas" on Justia Law