December 20, 2013

Summary of December 18, 2013 conference report for civil cases

The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s last conference of the year, held Wednesday, December 18, 2013.  The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted, (2) review has been denied but one or more justices has voted for review, or (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal.

Review Granted

None.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Las Vegas Land and Development Company v. Wilkie Way, S214350—Review Denied [Kennard J., voting for review]—December 18, 2013

The question presented was whether Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b)’s provision for mandatory relief from a “default” judgment applies to summary judgment rulings.  The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three, held in a published opinion, Las Vegas Land and Development Company v. Wilkie Way (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 1086, that the mandatory relief provided by section 473(b) does not apply to summary judgment rulings because they are neither defaults nor dismissals.  The court also held there is no exception to section 473(b)’s requirement that the moving party submit an attorney affidavit of fault.

Mt. Holyoke Homes v. Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell, S214426—Review Denied [Baxter J., voting for review]—December 18, 2013

The questions presented were:  (1) whether an arbitration agreement is enforceable and, if so, whether the trial court properly compelled arbitration; and (2) whether the arbitration award  should be vacated  if the arbitrator failed to timely disclose his prior relationship with a partner of one of the parties.

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three, held in a published opinion, Mt. Holyoke Homes v. Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 1299, that: (1) the arbitration agreement was enforceable and the trial court properly compelled arbitration because there was no fraud in the execution of the arbitration agreement. The court ruled that the defendants had no duty to point out the existence of the arbitration provision, or to explain its significance, as the arbitration provision was clear and explicit.  Also, plaintiff was advised to consult independent counsel and this was not a contract of adhesion.  Nonetheless, the court ruled the arbitration award must be vacated because the arbitrator listed a partner in the defendant law firm as a reference on his resume but failed to timely disclose that fact. The court reasoned that this could cause an objective observer to reasonably doubt the arbitrator’s impartiality.

Depublished

None.

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