Under the arbitration clause in a movie production contract, an actor commenced arbitration against a production company over payment. During the arbitration the actor sought to add the principal of the production company (a non-signatory to the contract) in his individual capacity as an alter ego of the company. Primary issue was whether the decision to bind a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement and compel the non-signatory to arbitrate is a matter solely within the authority of the trial court, not the arbitrator.
Trial court ordered arbitration, set an arbitration completion date, and (after extending the date due to the length of the arbitration) later removed the assigned arbitrator because the arbitrator was reluctant to promise completion by the court's ultimate deadline. Issues included whether the trial court had the authority to set an arbitration completion date, and whether the arbitrator’s failure to commit to that date constituted a failure to act under Code Civ. Proc., § 1281.6, justifying his removal.
In denying a petition to vacate an arbitration award, the trial court deferred to an arbitrator's finding that an unlicensed contractor was not required by Bus. & Prof. Code, § 7031, subd. (b) to disgorge sums paid by the developer. Primary issue involved whether § 7031 fell within the "public policy" exception to the general prohibition of judicial review of arbitration awards.
The trial court vacated an arbitration award under Code Civ. Proc., § 1286.2, subd. (a)(6)(A), finding that the arbitrator failed to comply with his disclosure obligation under California law. Issues involved the interpretation of California disclosure rules and whether such rules were preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, which permits the vacating of an arbitration award only on a showing of “evident partiality” by the arbitrator (9 USC § 10(a)(2).
Hon. Thomas L. Willhite, Jr. (Ret.)
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