Friday, December 4, 2015

If Arbitration Fails, Try Arm Wrestling

Performance Team Freight Systems v. Aleman, No. B259146 (D2d2 Nov. 2. 2015)

Interesting how cases seem to come in clusters. We just talked about this. And here too, not very long ago. Interstate truckers’ employment contracts are excluded from the scope of the Federal Arbitration Act. As the recent Garcia case shows, given the difference of opinion between the California Supreme Court and the federal Supreme Court about the overall justness of aggressively compelling consumers and employees to arbitration, that can have some pretty interesting effects. But it doesn’t matter here because the exception applies only to employment contracts and not to agreements between trucking companies and their independent contractors. Plaintiff has the burden of providing the exception. Since here, his evidence did not show he was an employee, he could not show that the exception applies.

Nor were the claims outside the scope of the arbitration clause or the agreement itself unconscionable. In a rare analysis, the court finds that the plaintiff established that the agreement was substantively unconscionable but not procedurally so. (It’s almost always the other way around.) Plaintiff apparently failed to put in the typical declaration stating stating he was offered the contract only on a “take it or leave it” basis. Or that—as his appellate brief contends—the contract was only offered in English and he spoke only Spanish. While those things seem easy to prove, plaintiff still must actually prove them, with evidence.

So off to arbitration he goes.

Reversed.

Why doesnt Hollywood make stuff like this anymore?

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