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Arbitration, Summary Judgment, and Other Special Appeals

Arbitration, Summary Judgment, and Other Special Appeals

Late payment does not defeat arbitration because that CAA rule is preempted by FAA—but Justice Baker dissents

Last updated on May 30, 2024 by Tim Kowal
In a split opinion that “rather obviously invites a grant of review,” the Second District Court of Appeal in Hernandez v. Sohnen Enters. (D2d5 May 22, 2024 No. B323303) [cert. for pub.] held that, unless parties expressly invoke the California Arbitration Act, the Federal Arbitration Act preempts the CAA rule that deems any late fees...Read More >>

CEB has my article, “Arbitrator reversed for basing credibility on use of interpreter”

Last updated on January 12, 2024 by Tim Kowal
CEB DailyNews has published my article, “Arbitrator reversed for basing credibility on use of interpreter.” The article is about FCM Invs. v. Grove Pham, LLC (D4d1 Oct. 17, 2023) No. D080801. The arbitrator had ruled against the appellant based on a credibility determination, noting that “Mrs. Pham's use of an interpreter appeared to the Arbitrator...Read More >>

How appellate attorneys beat summary judgments, with Yisrael Gelb

Last updated on January 9, 2024 by Tim Kowal
Yisrael Gelb focuses his appellate practice on helping plaintiff lawyers beat summary judgment. We talk about some of his approaches to successfully opposing summary judgment motions, including: We also discuss Yisrael’s new podcast for plaintiffs’ attorneys, going by the provocative title, “The Ambulance Chasers.”   Yisrael Gelb’s biography, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed. Appellate Specialist...Read More >>

High-Profile Employment Appeals with Glenn Danas

Last updated on December 6, 2023 by Tim Kowal
Employment and class-action attorney Glenn Danas has argued 49 appeals in state and federal appellate courts throughout the country, including a current streak of eight consecutive reversals. Glenn talks with us about litigating the landmark Iskanian case, and how he turned the panel that initially issued a 148-page tentative against his client. Glenn also shares:...Read More >>

CEB has my article, “Pay in 30 Days or Arbitration Is Forfeit—And ‘Check Is in the Mail’ Does Not Cut It”

Last updated on December 4, 2023 by Tim Kowal
CEB’s DailyNews has published my article, “Pay in 30 Days or Arbitration Is Forfeit -- and 'Check Is in the Mail' Does Not Cut It.” The article is a reminder to ensure you pay arbitration fees within 30 days. And make sure not only that fees have been paid, but received. The employer-defendant in Doe v....Read More >>

CEB DailyNews: How to Preserve Appellate Rights in Your Arbitration Agreement

Last updated on November 13, 2023 by Tim Kowal
CEB’s DailyNews has published my article, “How to Preserve Appellate Rights in Your Arbitration Agreement.” The article illustrates how to use the California Supreme Court’s suggestion in Cable Connection, Inc. v. DIRECTV, Inc. (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1334 that parties agreeing to arbitration may also agree that the award be subject to judicial review on the merits. The case is...Read More >>

After Adolph v. Uber, parties “accept the inevitable” and stipulate to reverse

Last updated on October 26, 2023 by Tim Kowal
The employer-defendants made good use of the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022). They compelled arbitration of plaintiff-employee’s individual claims, and then got the PAGA claims dismissed. Plaintiff appealed from the dismissal. But then as court watchers anticipated, the California Supreme Court handed down Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc., holding that...Read More >>

Arbitrator reversed for basing credibility on use of interpreter

Last updated on October 23, 2023 by Tim Kowal
I will tell you two facts about this recent arbitration case, and let you guess how the Court of Appeal concluded. But be warned: your guess will be wrong. Fact one: The arbitrator found for the buyer (in a dispute over a business sale) based on the arbitrator’s conclusion that the seller’s lack of credibility...Read More >>

Refusing an evidentiary hearing on contested probate matter is error, and possibly structural error

Last updated on October 11, 2023 by Tim Kowal
After a trust beneficiary petitioned for over $1 million in trust distributions in Barbey v. Pnc Bank, N.A. (D2d6 Oct. 10, 2023) No. B325472 (nonpub. opn.), the trustees contested the petition and requested an evidentiary hearing. The probate court refused to hold an evidentiary hearing. Yes, I know “to some persons a million sounds like...Read More >>

Pay in 30 days or arbitration is forfeit, and “check is in the mail” does not cut it

Last updated on September 18, 2023 by Tim Kowal
So you have been sued and successfully compelled arbitration. Next step: do not fail to ensure your arbitration fees are received within 30 days. Not just paid, but received. The employer-defendant in Doe v. The Superior Court (D1d3 Sep. 8, 2023) No. A167105 put the check in the mail on day 25, but it was...Read More >>

Appeal Your Arbitrator?

Last updated on September 13, 2023 by Tim Kowal
We discuss some interesting recent cases out of the California Court of Appeal: Then we discuss the “Eisenberg rule,” and a survey that explains why lawyers still use legalese.   Appellate Specialist Jeff Lewis' biography, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed. Appellate Specialist Tim Kowal's biography, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, and YouTube page. Sign up for...Read More >>

How to Preserve Appellate Rights in Your Arbitration Agreement

Last updated on September 5, 2023 by Tim Kowal
The worst thing about arbitration is the risk of winding up with a decision contrary to law, facts, and common sense—and, because it’s arbitration, having no meaningful recourse. But that’s just the tradeoff. Right? Actually, that’s not the case. Back in 2008, the California Supreme Court held in Cable Connection, Inc. v. DIRECTV, Inc. (2008)...Read More >>

Judge’s biased statements could be raised in disqualification statement a year later

Last updated on June 7, 2023 by Tim Kowal
A challenge to a trial judge for cause is subject to waiver if not filed at the earliest practicable opportunity. North American Title waited a year in ****************************************North Am. Title Co. v. Sup. Ct. (Fresno) (D5 May, 19, 2023 No. F084913) --- Cal.Rptr.3d --- (2023 WL 3560761), before accusing the judge of bias for his...Read More >>

Appellate Tidbits: Senate to face off against court reporters, and new Notice of Appeal form coming

Last updated on April 24, 2023 by Tim Kowal
Here are some recent news items of interest to attorneys and court-watchers: California courts spent nearly half-billion dollars on court reporters, but that’s not enough. (Via Ben Shatz.) So if a court reporter isn’t available, SB 662 would allow electronic recordings to create the appellate record. Stiff court reporter lobby opposition expected. (Via Ben Shatz.)...Read More >>

The trial court can only correct an arbitrator’s award if it does not affect the merits

Last updated on February 15, 2023 by Tim Kowal
You may be able to convince a judge that an arbitrator’s award was wrong on the law. The judge thought so in E-Commerce Lighting, Inc. v. E-Commerce Trade LLC (D4d2 Dec. 9, 2022 No. E074525) --- Cal.Rptr.3d --- and so reversed the setoff awarded by the arbitrator in this lender-borrower dispute. Basically, the lender and...Read More >>

There Is No Such Thing As a “Corporate Representative” or “Person Most Qualified” Witness (CEB)

Last updated on February 6, 2023 by Tim Kowal
CEB has published my article, “There Is No Such Thing As a “Corporate Representative” or “Person Most Qualified” Witness.” The article discusses Ramirez v. Avon Products, Inc. (D2d8 Jan. 23. 2023 no. B313982) --- Cal.Rptr.3d --- (2023 WL 354915), which reversed a summary judgment. The corporate defendant had supported summary judgment with a “corporate representative”...Read More >>

Arbitration award under FAA won’t be overturned unless it’s a “form of vigilante justice”

Last updated on January 18, 2023 by Tim Kowal
Question: What’s the difference between an arbitration ruling based on an interpretation of contract that is merely wrong, and one that is irrational? The answer in Hayday Farms, Inc. v. FeedX Holdings, Inc., No. 21-55650 (9th Cir. Dec. 19, 2022), an appeal from an arbitration award, is about $7 million. This is yet another cautionary...Read More >>

A Timely MSJ Is Entitled to a Timely Hearing, Appellate Court Holds

Last updated on January 6, 2023 by Tim Kowal
Ever file a motion only for the clerk to give you a hearing date after trial. Lot of good that does. That happened to the defendant in Cole v. Superior Court, No. D081299 (D4d1 Dec. 30, 2022). So he filed an ex parte to get a timely hearing or continue the trial. But the trial...Read More >>

MSJ Evidence Rulings Are Discretionary, California Appellate Court Holds in Split of Authority

Last updated on November 11, 2022 by Tim Kowal
CEB has published my article, “MSJ Evidence Rulings Are Discretionary, California Appellate Court Holds in Split of Authority,” about the recent published opinion in Doe v. Software One, Inc. (D4d3 Oct. 12, 2022 no. G060554) 2022 WL 6901145 holding that evidentiary rulings in connection with summary judgment are reviewed on appeal for abuse of discretion....Read More >>

Update: Opinion Published in Doe v. Software One, Inc.

Last updated on November 10, 2022 by Tim Kowal
In October 2022 the Court of Appeal issued its unpublished opinion in Doe v. Software One, Inc. (D4d3 Oct. 12, 2022 no. G060554) 2022 WL 6901145, covered here. On November 8, the court ordered the opinion be published. Doe v. Software One holds that evidentiary rulings in deciding a motion for summary judgment are reviewed...Read More >>

CEB has my article, “Don’t Seek Default Without Notifying Opposing Counsel”

Last updated on October 27, 2022 by Tim Kowal
CEB has published my article, “Don’t Seek Default Without Notifying Opposing Counsel,” available at  https://bit.ly/3WjAZ4m The PDF article is here: Tim Kowal_CEB has my article, “Don’t Seek Default Without Notifying Opposing Counsel”.pdf The article summarizes a recent case, Shapell Socal Rental Properties, LLC v. Chico’s Fas, Inc. (D4d3 Oct. 17, 2022 no. G060411) ___ Cal.Rptr.3d...Read More >>

Should Appellate Courts Promote Mediation?

Last updated on August 26, 2022 by Tim Kowal
Should appellate courts mediate disputes? Appellate specialist and mediator John Derrick says that the court’s mission is to “weave the tapestry of the common law,” and you do that by deciding cases, not by settling them. After all, you don’t see the Supreme Court trying to get cases to settle, now do you? Watch the...Read More >>

Does the Probate System “Care A Lot”?

Last updated on June 3, 2022 by Tim Kowal
The 2020 film I Care A Lot is premised on the possibility of predator conservators using the conservatorship system to loot the estates of the elderly. Could it actually happen? Probate attorney David Greco says that, while the film makes some leaps, conservatorship abuse does happen. Improper uses of conservatorship include children seeking conservatorships over...Read More >>

What Family Law Attorneys Can Miss on Appeals

Last updated on May 19, 2022 by Tim Kowal
Victoria Fuller, a certified appellate specialist focusing on family law, explains what family law attorneys most often misunderstand about the appellate process. Her answer: “substantial evidence” review. Appellate review of a factual finding doesn’t just mean deference to the trial court. It means the appellate court considers only—only—the other side’s evidence, and completely disregards your...Read More >>

How to Mediate and Settle Your Appeal, with John Derrick (Cal.App.Law Podcast ep. 32)

Last updated on May 10, 2022 by Tim Kowal
Certified appellate specialist and mediator John Derrick talks to Jeff and Tim about mediating cases on appeal. John explains that some appellate courts have mediation programs because of a mission to promote settlement. But the courts’ job is to decide cases. John discusses the conflict between these two roles, including a story about an appellate...Read More >>

Litigating for 13 Months Does Not Waive Arbitration, But Dissent Disagrees

Last updated on April 28, 2022 by Tim Kowal
[Update: After I filed an amicus curiae request for publication of this opinion, the Court granted rehearing on its own motion, and re-issued a modified and partially published opinion. The Court published its holding that the defendant seeking arbitration here had not waived arbitration by litigating for 13 months. The result is the same, but...Read More >>

David Greco on the Unique Challenges in Probate Appeals

Last updated on April 19, 2022 by Tim Kowal
On episode 29 of the California Appellate Law Podcast, probate appellate attorney David Greco joins Tim Kowal and Jeff Lewis to discuss some of the unique features and challenges in probate appeals: Fact challenges in probate appeals are uniquely difficult to win. Probate trials are typically bench trials, and appellate courts very rarely overturn a...Read More >>

Preliminary Injunction Is Not Appealable If Issued by an Arbitrator

Last updated on February 16, 2022 by Tim Kowal
Nosing out whether an order is appealable can be difficult. But we know injunctions are appealable because they are listed explicitly in Code of Civil Procedure section 904.1, the appealability statute. But a preliminary injunction issued by an arbitrator is not. They are not a final “award,” and thus not appealable. That is the holding...Read More >>

The Trend Toward Reviewability of Arbitration Awards

Last updated on December 21, 2021 by Tim Kowal
Appellate attorney Anne Grignon suggests the California appellate courts seem to be more willing to review arbitration awards lately. Anne discusses with Tim Kowal and Jeff Lewis how questions concerning whether the case should be arbitrated, and questions involving important policy interests, may be more likely to receive appellate review. If you are in arbitration, these are important things to consider,...Read More >>

Evolving Law on Arbitrability in CA

Last updated on December 14, 2021 by Tim Kowal
Who decides whether a dispute must be arbitrated? The court, or the arbitrator? By a vote of 3 appellate attorneys, the court should decide. Appellate attorney Anne Grignon explains the takeaway from Banc of California v. Superior Court when attorney see an arbitration agreement incorporating the AAA rules – which purport to empower the arbitrator to determine...Read More >>

"It may be that the court is thought to be excessively legalistic. I should be sorry to think that it is anything else."

— Hon. Sir Owen Dixon, Chief Justice of Australia

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”

— James Madison, Federalist 62

"A judge is a law student who grades his own papers."

— H.L. Mencken

"God made the angels to show Him splendor, … Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind."

— Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons

Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly.


"Moot points have to be settled somehow, once they get thrust upon us. If an assertion cannot be proved, then it must be settled some other way, and nearly all of these ways are unfair to somebody."

—T.H. White, The Once and Future King

"Upon putting laws into writing, they became even harder to change than before, and a hundred legal fictions rose to reconcile them with reality."

— Will Durant

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."

— Plato (427-347 B.C.)

"At common law, barratry was 'the offense of frequently exciting and stirring up suits and quarrels' (4 Blackstone, Commentaries 134) and was punished as a misdemeanor."

Rubin v. Green (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1187

"Counsel on the firing line in an actual trial must be prepared for surprises, including requests for amendments of pleading. They cannot ask that a judgment afterwards obtained be set aside merely because their equilibrium was slightly disturbed by an unexpected motion."

Posz v. Burchell (1962) 209 Cal.App.2d 324, 334

"So far as the beginnings of law had theories, the first theory of liability was in terms of a duty to buy off the vengeance of him to whom an injury had been done whether by oneself or by something in one's power. The idea is put strikingly in the Anglo-Saxon legal proverb, 'Buy spear from side or bear it,' that is, buy off the feud or fight it out."

— Roscoe Pound, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

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