A mobile home park’s arbitration clause was unconscionable and properly not enforced. The clause was part of the park lease, which was an adhesion contract presented on a take-it-or-leave-it basis to low income park residents after they had agreed to buy or had bought mobile homes located in the park and were unable to withdraw easily or without loss if they refused the lease terms. The lease was in English without translation though a third of park residents spoke only Spanish. And the clause was confusingly written and self-contradictory in parts. The clause was substantively unconscionable in requiring entry of a default arbitration award unless each party advanced half the cost of the JAMS arbitration before three arbitrators, which could easily mount to more money than park residents could afford. In addition, the clause contained a one-year limitations provision and limited recovery of punitive damages. Severance was not an option because there were too many unconscionable provisions and the provision regarding advancing costs could not be easily severed.
California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4 (Manella, J.); September 9, 2016; 2016 WL 4709888