Thursday, January 5, 2017

Figure Out What You're Asking for Before the Reply Brief

Flores v. Nature’s Best Dist., LLC, No. G052410 (D4d3 Dec. 27, 2016)

Plaintiff’s Employer is trying to compel arbitration of her disability discrimination claims. Unfortunately, Employer made pretty bad work of it in the trail court. It put up a witness who failed to adequately authenticate plaintiff’s signature on an arbitration agreement (which was on a copy of a policy unsigned by any Employer representative). And the agreement had a carve out for claims subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement, but Employer didn’t explain how those claims were demarcated. Making matters worse, on reply Employer seemingly abandoned its effort to compel arbitration under the agreement it moved on, shifting to compel under the CBA instead. It further claimed the proceedings would be subject to the AAA rules, but never settled on which of AAA’s many rules would apply—proving one set of rules in evidence and discussing another in its briefs.

At the end of the day, the court upholds the trial court’s finding that Employer failed to prove the existence of an enforceable agreement to arbitrate because the evidence put forward was so confused and ambiguous that the core terms of an agreement weren’t established. It’s not entirely clear to me if the result would have been different had Employer made a better presentation in the trial court, but there’s a least a strong possibility. 

At the end of the day, I’m not really sure why this opinion merited publication.


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