Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries
Zhang v. Super. Ct.
Petitioner was an equity partner in Dentons U.S. LLP, a law firm with offices throughout the United States. A dispute arose between them over a multimillion-dollar contingency fee from a client whom Petitioner brought to the firm. The partnership agreement contains a clause providing for arbitration of all disputes in Chicago or New York. The partnership agreement also contains a clause delegating all questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator. Dentons terminated Petitioner for cause, asserting a breach of fiduciary duty, and initiated an arbitration in New York.Petitioner sued Dentons for wrongful termination and other causes of action in Los Angeles Superior Court. Petitioner obtained a temporary restraining order and then a preliminary injunction, enjoining the New York arbitration until the court could decide whether there was a clear and unmistakable delegation clause.Dentons filed a motion under Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.4, seeking a mandatory stay of the case based on its motion to compel arbitration that was then pending in a New York court, which the New York court later granted.Petitioner sought a writ of mandate, which the court previously denied. The Supreme Court granted review and transferred the case back to the Second Appellate District, directing the court to issue an order to show cause. The court did so, and again denies the petition. The court agreed with the trial court that the parties delegated questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator. The arbitrability issues in this case include whether petitioner is an employee who may invoke Labor Code section 925 and require the merits of the dispute to be resolved in California instead of New York. View "Zhang v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
Taska v. The RealReal, Inc.
Taska was hired by TRR in 2017 but was terminated in 2018, allegedly based on her protest against the CEO’s discriminatory comments and her reports of workplace-related legal violations. After arbitration, Taska stated her intent to file a petition for attorney fees and costs under Government Code 12965(b), “upon a liability finding.” TRR also sought fees and costs, arguing Taska’s lawsuit should be deemed meritless, based on her “fabricated evidence.” TRR did not ask for any specific amount or offer supporting evidence. The arbitrator determined that Taska failed to prove her claims and was not entitled to fees or costs; TRR was not entitled to fees and costs because Taska’s claims were not frivolous. TRR later sought fees and costs, explaining that facts established by the arbitrator were not available at the time of the previous briefing. The arbitrator issued a new “Final Award,” awarding TRR $53,705.43. A Corrected Final Award increased the amount to $73,756.43, based on a calculation error.The trial court confirmed the liability determination but held that the arbitrator exceeded her authority by amending the original Award. The court of appeal affirmed. Once the 30-day period for correction (section 1284) runs, the award is final and the arbitrator’s jurisdiction ends apart from specific statutory exceptions, The court rejected TRR’s “placeholder” argument that the Award was not “final” because the issue of fees and costs was not ripe until the arbitrator determined the question of liability. View "Taska v. The RealReal, Inc." on Justia Law
Jiangsu Beier Decoration Materials Co., Ltd. v. Angle World LLC
Angle served as the exclusive U.S. distribution agent for Jiangsu, a Chinese manufacturer..Jiangsu claims that, as of June 2018, Angle owed it $1.3 million. Under a June 2018 memorandum of understanding, Angle agreed to pay Jiangsu $528,227.59 within six months. The MOU did not contain an arbitration clause. In July, Jiangsu sent Angle a revised agreement, under which the parties agreed to submit any dispute to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) with a revised payment schedule. Angle never signed the July MOU. The parties agreed to a payment schedule, without reference to either MOU. Jiangsu repeatedly asked Angle to forward the “signed agreement.” Angle did not make all of the agreed payments. Jiangsu initiated arbitration. Angle objected to CIETAC’s jurisdiction. The Chinese Court found that the July MOU and its arbitration clause were enforceable. The CIETAC arbitration panel independently determined that the July MOU was enforceable under the U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods and Chinese law and ordered Angle to pay $624,227.59.Jiangsu sought to enforce its award in the United States under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. The Third Circuit vacated the dismissal of Jiangsu’s confirmation petition. While the district court was not bound by the decisions of Chinese tribunals and Angle did not waive its right to contest enforcement, the district court should make an independent determination as to arbitrability. View "Jiangsu Beier Decoration Materials Co., Ltd. v. Angle World LLC" on Justia Law
Robinson Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v. Phillips
The Supreme Court remanded this case after Appellant appealed a circuit court order granting in part and denying in part its motion to enforce arbitration agreements and to compel class members with arbitration agreements to submit their claims to binding arbitration, holding that remand was required.In this case involving several claims against a nursing home, Plaintiff moved to enforce arbitration agreements and to compel other class members with arbitration agreements to submit their claims to binding arbitration, a motion that involved arbitration agreements signed by thirty-three residents at admission. The circuit court granted the motion with respect to fifteen residents and denied it with respect to eighteen residents. The Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions for the circuit court to make findings regarding its order denying Plaintiffs motion to compel arbitration, holding that, in order to conduct a proper appellate review, this Court must know the circuit court's rationale for its decision. View "Robinson Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v. Phillips" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Mobley v. Toledo
The Supreme Court denied as moot a writ of mandamus requested by Relator compelling the City of Toledo to provide him with copies of public records and to pay statutory damages under Ohio's Public Records Act, Ohio Rev. Code 149.43, holding that that writ was moot.Relator claimed that he sent a public-records request to the City's police department seeking certain records. When the request was denied Realtor commenced this action and requested statutory damages. Relator later moved to strike an affidavit and accompanying documents on the grounds that Toledo had not served him with the evidence. The Supreme Court denied the motion, holding (1) because Relator conceded that he had not received the records at issue, the writ was moot; and (2) because Relator did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that he sent his purported request by certified mail or any other method, his request for statutory damages is denied. View "State ex rel. Mobley v. Toledo" on Justia Law
Mills v. Facility Solutions Group
Plaintiff filed a complaint against his former employer, Facility Solutions Group, Inc. (FSG), for disability discrimination and related causes of action under the Fair Employment & Housing Act. The same month Plaintiff filed this class action against FSG for Labor Code violations, which also included a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. The trial court in this action denied FSG’s motion, finding unconscionability permeated the arbitration agreement because it had a low to moderate level of procedural unconscionability and at least six substantively unconscionable terms, making severance infeasible. On appeal, FSG contends claim and issue preclusion required the trial court in this action to enforce the arbitration agreement. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court agreed with the trial court that the arbitration agreement is permeated with unconscionability, and the court cannot simply sever the offending provisions. Rather, the court would need to rewrite the agreement, creating a new agreement to which the parties never agreed. Moreover, upholding this type of agreement with multiple unconscionable terms would create an incentive for an employer to draft a onesided arbitration agreement in the hope employees would not challenge the unlawful provisions, but if they do, the court would simply modify the agreement to include the bilateral terms the employer should have included in the first place. View "Mills v. Facility Solutions Group" on Justia Law
GCIU-EMPLOYER RETIREMENT FUND, ET AL V. MNG ENTERPRISES, INC.
The Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 imposes liability on employers who withdraw—partially or completely—from multiemployer pension funds. After a complete withdrawal, GCIU-Employer Retirement Fund’s (GCIU) actuary calculated MNG Enterprise’s (MNG) withdrawal liability using an interest rate published by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. On MNG’s challenge, an arbitrator found (1) that MNG could not be assessed partial withdrawal liability following a complete withdrawal, (2) that it had shown the interest rate used was not the best estimate of the plan’s experience, and (3) that GCIU properly included the newspapers’ contribution histories. The district court affirmed the arbitrator’s award, vacating and correcting only a typographical error on the interest rate. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s order affirming, except for a typographical error, an arbitrator’s award regarding the withdrawal liability. The panel held that the MPPAA directs the plan actuary to determine withdrawal liability based on “actuarial assumptions and methods which, in the aggregate, are reasonable (taking into account the experience of the plan and reasonable expectations) and which, in combination, offer the actuary’s best estimate of anticipated experience under the plan.” The panel held that the GCIU actuary’s use of the PBGC rate, without considering the “experience of the plan and reasonable expectations,” did not satisfy the “best estimate” standard. View "GCIU-EMPLOYER RETIREMENT FUND, ET AL V. MNG ENTERPRISES, INC." on Justia Law
Davis v. Shiekh Shoes, LLC
In 2018, Shiekh hired Davis; both signed an agreement to resolve all disputes by binding arbitration. Davis resigned after three months, claiming she was subjected to sexual harassment by her co-worker and customers. In March 2019, Davis filed a complaint under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. On May 12, a summons was served. In July, Shiekh, represented by counsel, answered Davis’s complaint, asserting the arbitration agreement as an affirmative defense, and filed a case management statement. In August, the court scheduled a trial for July 2020. Discovery ensued, without Shiekh asserting a right to arbitrate. The trial date was continued. In October 2020 (17 months after service of process; seven months before the trial date) Shiekh moved to compel arbitration, citing the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C.1) and California Arbitration Act, asserting that its participation in the lawsuit had been de minimis and not inconsistent with an intent to arbitrate, and that the delay was excusable, citing its lack of counsel for several months, pandemic-related disruptions, and “the fact that [an employee] seemed to be the primary target of [the] complaint," until July 2020.The court of appeal affirmed the denial of Shiekh’s motion. Although the Supreme Court recently held that a waiver of the right to arbitrate cannot be conditioned on a showing of prejudice, substantial evidence supports the denial based on relevant factors other than prejudice. Shiekh’s actions were inconsistent with the right to arbitrate. View "Davis v. Shiekh Shoes, LLC" on Justia Law
Appalachian Voices v. State Corp. Comm’n
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the State Corporation Commission (SCC) that approved a petition filed by the Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO) to obtain a rate-adjustment clause pursuant to Va. Code 56-585.1(A)(5)(e), holding that, contrary to the arguments brought by Applalachian Voices on appeal, the SCC applied the proper legal standard governing such requests.VEPCO made its request to recover projected costs of purchasing allowances through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade market regulating carbon dioxide emissions by electric utilities. On appeal, Appalachian Voices, a nonprofit environmental organization, argued that the SCC failed to apply the law when it approved VEPCO's petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the SCC did not misunderstand or fail o apply the legal standard governing petitions filed pursuant to Va. Code 56-585.1(A)(5)(e). View "Appalachian Voices v. State Corp. Comm'n" on Justia Law
Villareal v. LAD-T, LLC
LAD-T, LLC, dba Toyota of Downtown Los Angeles (LAD-T), and its parent company Lithia Motors Inc. (Lithia; collectively, Defendants) appeal from an order denying their motion to compel arbitration of Plaintiff’s claims brought under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Defendants contend the trial court erred in finding Business and Professions Code section 17918 barred them from enforcing an arbitration agreement made in the name of an unregistered fictitious business, DT Los Angeles Toyota. The Second Appellate District vacated the order denying Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration remanded for the trial court to address whether Defendants have waived their right to compel arbitration. The court ruled that if the trial court finds waiver, it should again deny the motion to compel arbitration; if it finds no waiver, it should grant the motion. The court explained that it agrees with Plaintiff that Defendants failed to act diligently in filing their fictitious business name statement. Accordingly, in the interests of justice the court vacated the court’s order denying the motion to compel arbitration and direct the court to again consider the motion to compel arbitration limited to the narrow issue of whether Defendants have waived their right to compel arbitration by their delay in filing the fictitious business name statement. View "Villareal v. LAD-T, LLC" on Justia Law