Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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FFC and Global appealed the arbitrator's award after Global filed suit against FFC to recover amounts owed on unpaid invoices. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court prejudicially erred when it failed to apply the correct standards in reviewing the arbitrator's award; substantial evidence did not support the award and an alleged contract to be performed over a three-year period violated the statute of frauds; the arbitrator exceeded his authority by deciding a claim that FFC had not agreed to arbitrate; the arbitrator exceeded his authority when he added the Affiliates as obligors under the award; and the court deemed the appeals from the orders denying attorney fees as petitions for writ of mandate and directed the trial court to vacate its orders and to deny the motions. View "Harshad & Nasir Corp. v. Global Sign Systems" on Justia Law

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For purposes of the Iskanian rule, the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) representative claims for civil penalties are limited to those where a portion of the recovery is allocated to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Claims for unpaid wages based on Labor Code section 558 are not allocated in this manner and, therefore, the Iskanian rule does not exempt such claims from arbitration. Applying the interpretation of the Iskanian rule and its term of art, civil penalties, to this litigation, the court concluded that some of the claims the employee was pursuing were PAGA representative claims that seek civil penalties. Under the Iskanian rule, those claims were not subject to arbitration. Therefore, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order insofar as it denied arbitration of the representative claims for civil penalties and remanded for further proceedings. View "Esparza v. KS Industries, LP" on Justia Law

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Marlene Baker LaBerge, a 73-year-old woman, was a resident and patient of a 24- hour skilled nursing facility owned by Italian Maple Holdings, LLC dba La Paloma Healthcare Center (La Paloma). LaBerge's heirs, Paul LaBerge, Suzanne Marx, and Talmadge Baker (collectively Plaintiffs) sued La Paloma and Plum Healthcare, LLC (together Defendants) for elder abuse, violations of the Patient's Bill of Rights as codified at Health and Safety Code section 1430, negligence, and wrongful death. In response, Defendants filed a petition to compel arbitration based on the two arbitration agreements that LaBerge had executed. The two arbitration agreements included language required by Code of Civil Procedure section 1295, subdivision (c), requiring such agreements to include a 30-day "cooling off" period, during which the parties to the agreement may rescind it. Ten days after LaBerge signed the agreements (and therefore, prior to the expiration of the statutorily-required 30- day rescission period), LaBerge passed away. The superior court denied the petition to compel arbitration, relying on Rodriguez v. Superior Court, 176 Cal.App.4th 1461 (2009) to conclude that the agreements were not effective until the 30-day rescission period passed without either party rescinding the agreements; because LaBerge died before the expiration of the 30-day rescission period, the agreements could not be given effect. On appeal, Defendants contended the trial court’s interpretation was wrong, and the Court of Appeal should decline to follow Rodriguez because that case was factually distinguishable from this case. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred in interpreting section 1295, subdivision (c), and that the arbitration agreements were valid and enforceable. Pursuant to the plain language of section 1295, subdivision (c), the terms of those agreements governed the parties' relationship upon their execution; the fact that one signatory died before the expiration of the statutory 30-day rescission period does not render the terms of the parties' agreements unenforceable in the absence of other grounds for not enforcing them. View "Baker v. Italian Maple Holdings" on Justia Law

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Marlene Baker LaBerge, a 73-year-old woman, was a resident and patient of a 24- hour skilled nursing facility owned by Italian Maple Holdings, LLC dba La Paloma Healthcare Center (La Paloma). LaBerge's heirs, Paul LaBerge, Suzanne Marx, and Talmadge Baker (collectively Plaintiffs) sued La Paloma and Plum Healthcare, LLC (together Defendants) for elder abuse, violations of the Patient's Bill of Rights as codified at Health and Safety Code section 1430, negligence, and wrongful death. In response, Defendants filed a petition to compel arbitration based on the two arbitration agreements that LaBerge had executed. The two arbitration agreements included language required by Code of Civil Procedure section 1295, subdivision (c), requiring such agreements to include a 30-day "cooling off" period, during which the parties to the agreement may rescind it. Ten days after LaBerge signed the agreements (and therefore, prior to the expiration of the statutorily-required 30- day rescission period), LaBerge passed away. The superior court denied the petition to compel arbitration, relying on Rodriguez v. Superior Court, 176 Cal.App.4th 1461 (2009) to conclude that the agreements were not effective until the 30-day rescission period passed without either party rescinding the agreements; because LaBerge died before the expiration of the 30-day rescission period, the agreements could not be given effect. On appeal, Defendants contended the trial court’s interpretation was wrong, and the Court of Appeal should decline to follow Rodriguez because that case was factually distinguishable from this case. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred in interpreting section 1295, subdivision (c), and that the arbitration agreements were valid and enforceable. Pursuant to the plain language of section 1295, subdivision (c), the terms of those agreements governed the parties' relationship upon their execution; the fact that one signatory died before the expiration of the statutory 30-day rescission period does not render the terms of the parties' agreements unenforceable in the absence of other grounds for not enforcing them. View "Baker v. Italian Maple Holdings" on Justia Law

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Prime filed suit against Kaiser, alleging that Kaiser failed to reimburse Prime for emergency medical services Prime provided to Kaiser members. On appeal, Kaiser challenged the trial court's denial of its petition to vacate an arbitration award. The Court of Appeal held that the merits of the confirmation of the panel's award on the Medicare Act preemption and exhaustion issues were not reviewable, either by appeal or by writ. Accordingly, the court issued a preemptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its judgment confirming the "Partial Final Award Re Medicare Advantage Claims" that the arbitration panel issued, and to enter a new and different order dismissing Kaiser's petition to vacate that award. View "Kaiser Foundation Health Plan v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Prime filed suit against Kaiser, alleging that Kaiser failed to reimburse Prime for emergency medical services Prime provided to Kaiser members. On appeal, Kaiser challenged the trial court's denial of its petition to vacate an arbitration award. The Court of Appeal held that the merits of the confirmation of the panel's award on the Medicare Act preemption and exhaustion issues were not reviewable, either by appeal or by writ. Accordingly, the court issued a preemptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its judgment confirming the "Partial Final Award Re Medicare Advantage Claims" that the arbitration panel issued, and to enter a new and different order dismissing Kaiser's petition to vacate that award. View "Kaiser Foundation Health Plan v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Vivint Solar, seeking rescission of an agreement in which Vivint Solar agreed to install a solar power generating system on their property in exchange for their agreement to purchase solar power generated by the system. Plaintiffs alleged individual and class claims for declaratory relief and violations of the Unfair Competition Law (UCL). The Court of Appeal held that the delegation clause in the arbitration provision of the agreement was enforceable and therefore it was the arbitrator, not the court, who was required to determine the enforceability of the arbitration provision and whether it covered class claims. The court issued a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the trial court to vacate that portion of its order in which it found the arbitration provision was not unconscionable or unenforceable, the claims asserted in the complaint were arbitrable, and the arbitration provision's prohibition against bringing class claims was enforceable. The court also vacated the order dismissing the class claims. The court denied in all other respects. View "Aanderud v. Superior Court of Kern County" on Justia Law

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The procedural provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., do not apply to a motion to compel arbitration in a California state court, where the arbitration agreement was governed by the FAA (because it involves interstate commerce), but the agreement has no choice-of-law provision, and no provision stating the FAA's procedural provisions govern the arbitration. The Court of Appeal held that the California procedure applies in these circumstances, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied an insurer's motion to compel arbitration with its insured, based on the possibility of conflicting rulings in pending litigation with third parties. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's motion to compel arbitration. View "LA Unified School District v. Safety National Casualty Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Carmen Zubillaga was injured in an automobile accident. The other driver was at fault. Her insurer, defendant Allstate Indemnity Company (Allstate), rejected her demand for $35,000, the full amount of her remaining underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, although it made her a series of offers increasing to $15,584 instead. After an arbitrator awarded plaintiff $35,000, the amount of her demand, she sued Allstate for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. While an insurance company has no obligation under the implied covenant of good faith to pay every claim its insured makes, the insurer cannot deny the claim, without fully investigating the grounds for its denial. To protect its insured’s contractual interest in security and peace of mind, it is essential that an insurer fully inquire into possible bases that might support the insured’s claim before denying it. The Court of Appeal found the problem in this case was that the undisputed facts showed the insurer’s opinions were rendered in October and November 2012, but insurer continued to rely on them through the arbitration in September 2013, without ever consulting with its expert again or conducting any further investigation. Summary judgment in favor of the insurer was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Zubillaga v. Allstate Indemnity Company" on Justia Law

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This case turned on whether an attorney-in-fact who admitted her principal to a residential care facility for the elderly made a “health care” decision. If she did, as the trial court found, she acted outside the scope of her authority under the power of attorney, and the admission agreement she signed, and its arbitration clause this appeal sought to enforce, were void. On these facts the Court of Appeal concluded the decision was health care decision, and the attorney-in-fact who admitted her, acting under the PAL, was not authorized to make those kinds of decisions on behalf of the principal. As a result of this conclusion, the Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of a motion by the residential care facility to compel arbitration. Because the attorney-in-fact acting under the PAL did not have authority to admit the principal to the residential care facility for the elderly, her execution of the admission agreement and its arbitration clause were void. View "Hutcheson v. Eskaton Fountainwood Lodge" on Justia Law