An Episode Of “Real Real Estate Owners Of Orange County” . . .
The opening paragraph clues us that the panel found this appeal tiresome:
“This case is the result of a business relationship gone so bad that the arbitrator likened it to ‘a highly contested family law dissolution replete with acrimony, significant monetary loss, lack of trust, and “hard ball” tactics . . . ‘ Consistent with that assessment, both sides challenge the judgment rendered below.”
The underlying dispute was between equal owners of Newport Harbor Offices and Marina, LLC (NHOM). Plaintiff McNaughton was the tenant of NHOM, and McNaughton and defendant Copenbarger were equal owners of NHOM. “When the parties’ relationship soured, McNaughton stopped paying rent and NHOM filed an unlawful detainer . . . “ After a prolonged arbitration slugfest, the arbitrator found McNaughton breached his lease, leaving the court to determine damages. After the trial court confirmed the arbitration award and assessed damages against McNaughton, the parties predictably appealed. Newport Harbor Offices & Marina, LLC v. McNaughton, Case Nos. G047424 and G048095 (4/3 Oct. 1, 2014) (Rylaarsdam, Bedsworth, Aronson) (unpublished).
With one exception, the Court of Appeal found the parties’ various contentions without merit, upholding the judgment and concluding that in any case, an arbitrator’s errors of law and fact are generally unreviewable. The exception related to retroactive prejudgment interest that the trial court had added to the arbitrator’s award, The Court of Appeal agreed that the trial court erred by adding retroactive interest into the judgment because it was nowhere mentioned in the arbitration award. Indeed, Copenbarger’s petition specifically requested prejudgment interest from “the date of the arbitration award,” not from the date of breach to the date of the award.
“In the interest of judgment” each side gets to bear its own costs on appeal.
PRACTICE TIP FROM THE COURT: The Court found allegations of a “Cabal” – i.e., a suggestion that opponents had acted nefariously -- to be “neither legally significant nor analytically helpful.”