Look to the Scope of the Arbitration Provision to Determine Whether Costs Need to Be Addressed by the Arbitrator or the Court
The plaintiff, a patient alleging malpractice, suing through his guardian ad litem, lost a first arbitration against a doctor. Unfortunately for the doctor, his party arbitrator had an ex parte contact with the neutral arbitrator while the award was pending -- leading the court to vacate the eventual award that would have helped the doctor. In a second arbitration, the patient won a significant monetary award, and then sought costs (based on an earlier cost shifting CCP section 998 offer). Costs were denied by the trial court on the grounds that costs should have been determined by the arbitrator. Maaso v. Signer, Case No. B228314 (2nd Dist., Div. 2 Feb. 7, 2012) (certified for publication).
The patient appealed the denial of costs, and the doctor appealed the vacation of the first arbitration.