It Helps To Be Able To Identify The Parties To An Arbitration Agreement !
As the next case illustrates, sometimes the basics can trip one up when it comes to enforcing an arbitration agreement.
Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging medical malpractice related to her sister’s death after lap band surgery. Defendants – a surgical center and physicians – moved to arbitrate, alleging they were “contracting parties and/or third party beneficiaries and/or alleged agents.” The trial court denied the motion, and defendants appealed. Pelter v. 1 – 800 – Get-Thin, LLC, B250124 (2/1 Oct. 28, 2014) (Johnson, Rothschild, Chaney) (unpublished).
Defendants’ problem was that only the decedent signed the arbitration agreement. Now sometimes a party who has not signed can enforce an agreement against a party who has signed. Here, however, the agreement did not clearly identify the parties: “there is no evidence identifying the person or entity with whom [the decedent] allegedly contracted.” And that made it impossible for the nonsignatory defendants to show they were entitled to enforce as third party beneficiaries or agents of . . . of whom? That’s the problem.
NOTE: On June 11, 2014, I blogged about another case, Prewitt v. 1-800-Get-Thin, LLC, in which the 2nd District, Division 7, upheld the denial of a petition to arbitrate, based on delay and prejudice.