Arbitration, Law, and Equity
Our next case reminds me of a hoary legal story. Clarence Darrow handles a legal matter for William Randolph Hearst, and telegrams him: “Justice has prevailed.” Hearst’s reply: “Appeal immediately!”
Appealing an arbitration result is often a long shot, because arbitration is more geared to equity and finality than to legal exactitude.
The point is brought home in Plummer v. Day/Eisenberg, Case No. G046567 (4th Dist., Div. 3 Mar. 22, 2013) (Ikola, J., author; 3-0) (unpublished). The arbitrator’s failure to declare a prevailing party and denial of statutory costs to the winner did not permit a different result. “An arbitrator does not exceed his or her powers by deciding an issue submitted for arbitration under the arbitration agreement. (Pierotti v. Torian (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 17, 25 (Pierotti); see also Corona v. Amherst Partners (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 701, 705 (Corona) [scope of arbitration and powers of arbitrator defined in accordance with agreement].)” Here, the submission to the arbitrator was broad enough to include the question of costs. And an error of fact or law is ordinarily not reason enough to reverse a judgment confirming an arbitrator’s award.