Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. The Best Service Co., Inc., Case No. B253861 (2/5 Dec. 17, 2014) (Turner, Mosk, Kriegler) (published).
In Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. The Best Service Co., Inc., the Court of Appeal dismissed defendant’s appeal of an order denying its motion to stay the action pending arbitration, because the stay motion was not accompanied by any motion or petition to compel arbitration or a pending arbitration. The order denying the bare stay motion was not an appealable order.
Judge v. Nijjar Realty, Inc., Case No. B248533 (2/7 Dec. 17, 2014) (Segal, Perluss, Zelon) (published).
Judge sued her employer in one lawsuit for employment-related and Labor Code causes of action (“individual/PAGA action”), and in another related lawsuit for similar causes of action on behalf of herself an other employees (“class action”).
The trial court granted defendants’ petitions to compel arbitration of plaintiff’s individual claims only, and stayed the two cases. The arbitrator then issued a “clause construction award”, concluding that the arbitration agreement permitted arbitration of class and representative claims. She labeled the award as “a partial final award on the construction of the arbitration clause.” Next, the court ruled that the arbitrator exceeded her powers by deciding the issue of whether the parties agreed to arbitrate class or representative claims, because the issue had been submitted to the court earlier for determination. (Confusion had arisen because in ruling earlier, the trial court seemed to be saying that these issues could be brought to the attention of the arbitrator).
The trial court’s order vacating the “clause construction award” was not a final arbitration award appealable under section 1294(c). The appeal from the order vacating the clause construction award in the individual/PAGA action was therefore dismissed.
COMMENT: Why wasn’t the trial court’s order vacating the “clause construction award” appealable under the “death knell doctrine”? The “death knell doctrine only applies ‘when it is unlikely the case will proceed as an individual action.’” Szetela v. Discover Bank, 97 Cal.App.4th 1094, 1098 (2002). In Judge, however, the Court of Appeal reasoned that the death knell doctrine did not apply, because “[u]nlike an order dismissing class claims . . . the clause construction award allows class claims to proceed.” We surmise that this is a case in which there was no class action waiver in the employee’s contract.