Arbitration

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Plaintiff bought a set of tires from WalMart.com, agreeing to its online terms which included an arbitration agreement.  He sent the tires to a local WalMart to be installed on his car.  While in the store, plaintiff bought WalMart's "lifetime" service contract for tire rotation and balancing.  That service contract did not include an arbitration clause.  This decision affirms the… Read More

In a case governed by federal law, the arbitrator not the court decides whether the defendant has waived arbitration at least by acts other than participation in litigation.  But under California law, the court decides issues of waiver.  (CCP 1281.2(a).)  In this case, despite a choice of FAA law in the arbitration clause, California law governed this issue because plaintiffs'… Read More

Plaintiff did not agree to a franchisor's arbitration clause, so the trial court correctly denied the franchisor's motion to compel arbitration.  The arbitration clause was contained in the franchisor's "terms and conditions of service" which were available to the plaintiff only by checking an inconspicuous link on a tablet device handed to plaintiff as she appeared for her monthly massage… Read More

Following similar decisions in other circuits, this decision holds that the grounds for vacating an award under section 10 apply to international arbitration awards under the Convention on Recognition of Foreign Arbitral Awards (9 USC 201 et seq.).  9 USC 10(a)(4) allows a court to vacate an arbitration award if the arbitrators exceed their powers--which the arbitrators do only if… Read More

When plaintiffs created their Coinbase accounts, they agreed to the “Coinbase User Agreement,” which contains an arbitration provision. They later opted into the Sweepstakes’ “Official Rules,” which include a forum selection clause providing that California courts have exclusive jurisdiction over any controversies regarding the sweepstakes.  This decision affirms the district court's determination that the arbitration agreement did not delegate to… Read More

The trial court correctly denied the defendant employer's motion to compel arbitration.  The arbitration agreement did not clearly delegate the decision on unconscionability to the arbitrator.  Merely referring to "arbitrability" as a kind of dispute handled by the arbitrator was insufficient, as was incorporation of AAA rules, at least in the context of an employment agreement.  The arbitration agreement was… Read More

This decision holds that Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022) 142 S.Ct. 1906 overrules the cases that followed Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC (2014) 59 Cal.4th 348 in holding that pre-dispute arbitration clauses were unenforceable to compel arbitration of the individual PAGA claim(s) of the plaintiff employee.  Viking River held that the individual plaintiff acts in part… Read More

Plaintiffs entered into arbitration agreements with Pacific as part of their agreements for Pacific's cryogenic preservation of their sperm or eggs.  One of the cryogenic tanks in which the specimens were to be preserved failed.  This decision holds that the manufacturer and distributor of the failed tank could not compel arbitration under the plaintiffs' agreements with Pacific to which the… Read More

Defendant employer failed to pay the arbitrator's fees within 30 days.  Accordingly, the trial court correctly granted plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the order compelling arbitration.  CCP 1287.98 allows a party to avoid arbitration under an employment or consumer contract if the party that drafted the arbitration agreement and moved to compel arbitration does not pay arbitration fees within 30… Read More

This decision holds that an arbitration agreement in an employment contract was unconscionable and therefore unenforceable because (1) it did not explain and separately provide for waiver of the employee's right to sue in court to enforce his individual PAGA claim (as opposed to the non-waivable right to sue under PAGA for the benefit of other employees), and (2) in… Read More

Under Lab. Code 925(a)(1), an employer may not require an employee to agree to adjudicate in another state a dispute arising in California.  This decision holds that the provision does not prohibit a court or arbitrator in another state from adjudicating whether section 925 applies.  Here, Zhang was a full partner of Dentons, so there was ample room for questioning… Read More

Following Landis v. Pinkertons, Inc. (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 985, this decision holds that an arbitrator lacks the power to correct a final award.  Here, the arbitrator issued an award that resolved all submitted issues, including denying the defendant's motion for an attorney fee award, but then later issued a revised award granting $73,000 in attorney fees to defendant.  The revised… Read More

In a case involving interstate commerce, the FAA governs and the federal standard for waiver as interpreted in Morgan v. Sundance, Inc. (2022) 142 S.Ct. 1708 applies.  Here, the trial court properly denied arbitration since the defendant waited 17 months from the filing of the complaint before moving to compel arbitration.  During that time plaintiff attempted to take discovery.  Defendant… Read More

An arbitrator did not exceed her powers and the trial court correctly refused to vacate the arbitration award under CCP 1286.2(a)(4) for exceeding powers.  The award limited the indemnity to which the parties' contract otherwise entitled defendant on equitable grounds. Nothing in the agreement prohibited the arbitrator from doing so.  Absent express provision to the contrary, the arbitrator may reasonably… Read More

An arbitration award may be set aside if “procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means."  (CCP 1286.2(a)(1).)  This decision holds that the opponent's citing a statute that wasn't effective until after the events giving rise to the arbitrated claims is not an undue means because the losing party had ample opportunity at and after the arbitration hearing to bring… Read More

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