March 12, 2013

Oral argument set for significant arbitration appeal

At least three appeals pending before the California Supreme Court—Sonic-Calabasas A v. Moreno, Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co., and Iskanian v. CLS Transportation of Los Angeles—concern the impact of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark arbitration decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion on California arbitration law.

Last November, we wondered whether the Court would choose to hear argument in all three cases on the same day. After all, while each could be decided on different grounds—including grounds with little, if any, bearing on Concepcion—the common question of Concepcion’s impact runs through all three cases.

The Court has now signaled that it likely will not decide the three cases together. The Court recently announced its April oral argument calendar and set argument in Sonic-Calabasas for 9 a.m. on April 3. But it did not set oral argument in either Sanchez or Iskanian. The briefing in Sanchez is complete, so there is an outside chance the Court might decide it and Sonic-Calabasas at the same time (if it were to set oral argument in Sanchez for May or early June). This possibility, however, seems remote given that the Court could have set both cases for oral argument on the same day if it were interested in deciding them together and yet the Court chose not to do so.

At any rate, there is no chance the Court will decide Iskanian at the same time as Sonic-Calabasas, since Iskanian is not yet fully briefed. It is still possible, however, that the Court may yet hear oral argument in Sanchez and Iskanian on the same day and decide those cases at the same time once Iskanian is fully briefed in the relatively near future. But the Court may be inclined to decide Sanchez without waiting for Iskanian since the Court previously granted the plaintiff’s motion for calendar preference in Sanchez.

[Full disclosure: Horvitz & Levy LLP has filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the defendants in Sonic-Calabasas and Sanchez.]

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