Bon Ton Burlesquers. c1898. Library of Congress.
The Court of Appeal applies a de novo standard of review to arbitrator disclosure issues (unless the trial court’s decision is based upon disputed facts, in which case a substantial evidence standard or review applies). In Mitchell Anthony Productions LLC v. Jennifer Hamilton, B269969 (2/5 4/12/17) (Turner, Kriegler, Baker) (unpublished), the Court of Appeal rejected plaintiff/appellant’s request to vacate an award based on a claim that the arbitrator had failed to make necessary disclosures.
Plaintiff’s owner, who wanted to produce a burlesque show, claimed defendant, a choreographer, had defamed him. He sought to force the arbitrator to recuse himself after learning that the arbitrator had represented “talent.” However, the arbitrator had indicated that he did not have a relationship with any party or party’s counsel, something that was not challenged. Bottom line: “[R]epresentation of talent agencies is not evidence in this case of an arbitrator’s bias in favor of a dancer.”
COMMENT: One might imagine circumstances in which an arbitrator’s history of one-sided representation could be relevant. Here, however, the record was thin. There was no evidence of the nature of the arbitrator’s alleged representation of talent and talent agents, no evidence as to when it occurred, no evidence as to who was represented, and no evidence of any similar information.