Plaintiff Finds Way Around JAMS Deadline
The next case illustrates the fundamental point that an arbitration award is not the same as a judgment, and that even after the time has expired under the governing arbitration rules to amend the award, it may still be possible to amend the judgment confirming the award. Butler v. Lyons & Wolivar, Inc., Case No. G04766 (4th Dist. Div. 3 March 3, 2014) (Fybel, Rylaarsdam, Aronson) (unpublished).
Plaintiff Butler arbitrated with his franchisor, the investigation firm Lyons & Wolivar Investigatins (Lyons), obtaining a net award of $512,244.67 against Lyons. So far, pretty good for Plaintiff. But when Plaintiff petitioned to confirm the arbitration award against both Lyons and its successor corporation, LWI, Inc. (LWI), the trial court refused to confirm the award against LWI, because the award only named Lyons.
So Plaintiff went back to the arbitrator to seek “clarification” that the award included LWI. Now the deadline in JAMS Rule 24 kicked in: the arbitrator had lost any power to modify the Final Award, because that award was more than 30 days old.
California Rule of Civil Procedure, section 187 came to the rescue: “Under section 187, the court has the authority to amend a judgment to add additional judgment debtors.” NEC Electronics Inc. v. Hurt, 208 Cal.App.3d 772, 778 (1989).
The Court of Appeal complimented Defendants for correctly setting forth “the law regarding judicial review of arbitration awards.” But then the Court retracted its compliment by pointing out that judicial review of an arbitration award is not the same as judicial review of a judgment – and here, the only issue was the correctness of the trial court’s order amending the judgment.
Judgment affirmed – also affirming the adage that “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”