Baxter v. Bock

Attorney Baxter and his former clients, the Bocks, participated in arbitration under the Mandatory Fee Arbitration Act (Bus. & Prof. Code, 6200), stipulating to be bound by the result. In his decision, the arbitrator concluded the services provided by Baxter should be valued at the amount already paid by the Bocks and awarded Baxter nothing. The parties acknowledge that the arbitrator erred in stating the amount of fees paid by the Bocks. When the error was brought to his attention, the arbitrator declined to correct his award. Later, Baxter discovered the arbitrator was in the business of auditing attorney bills and had written extensively about attorney overbilling. Baxter argued unsuccessfully that the arbitration award should be vacated because the arbitrator erred in stating the amount paid and failed to disclose matters relating to bias. The court of appeal affirmed confirmation of the arbitration award, finding that the arbitrator was not obligated to disclose the nature of his practice and that Baxter was not prejudiced by the arbitrator’s handling of the evidence. The amount of the court’s award of attorney fees to the Bocks was vacated and remanded to the for reconsideration of a lodestar compensation rate assigned to an attorney. View "Baxter v. Bock" on Justia Law