Friday, September 27, 2013

Time to Update that Resume . . .

Mt. Holyoke Homes, LP v. Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell, LLP, No. B243912 (D2d3 Sept. 24, 2013)

In an appeal following the denial of a petition to vacate an arbitral award in favor of Jeffer Mangels in a legal malpractice case, the court finds that Jeffer Mangels’ arbitration clause in their retainer letter is enforceable and that arbitration was properly compelled. As to the petition to vacate, however, the court reversed. The arbitrator’s (apparently ten-year-old) Internet bio listed Robert Mangels (the Mangels in Jeffer Mangels) as a reference. But he didn’t disclose that in his mandatory disclosures of potential conflicts under Code of Civil Procedure § 1281.9(b). Because the arbitrator was required to disclose any information that could reasonably cause a person aware of the facts to entertain a doubt that the proposed arbitrator would be impartial, and because the court believed that the arbitrator’s use of Mangels as a reference met that standard, the fact of the reference should have been disclosed. Failure to do so merited vacating the arbitral award under § 1286.2(a)(6)(A). Reversed and remanded.

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