Defendant real estate brokers appealed a judgment from the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which confirmed an arbitration award in favor of plaintiff client and denied the brokers’ motion to vacate the award. Parties’ Los Angeles litigation lawyer appeal.
The client bought a home using a standard form California purchase agreement with an arbitration provision. The agreement required the arbitrator to render an award in accordance with substantive California law and stated that the parties were giving up their judicial rights, including appeal. Discovering that extensive structural damage had rendered the home uninhabitable, the client alleged that his brokers knew of the structural damage and failed to disclose it. The brokers challenged the arbitrator’s legal conclusions regarding breach of fiduciary duty and damages. The court stated that arbitrators did not ordinarily exceed their powers within the meaning of Code Civ. Proc., § 1286.2, subd. (a)(4), by making errors of law. Although arbitration agreements could expressly deprive arbitrators of the power to commit legal error, the parties did not agree to an expanded scope of review by requiring the arbitrator to render an award in accordance with California substantive law. Because the arbitration provider’s rules gave the arbitrator discretion to allocate costs, Code Civ. Proc., § 1284.2, did not require a pro rata allocation. The brokers’ appeal was not frivolous.
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
HOLDINGS: -The district court properly excluded an expert opinion and denied class certification in purchasers/lessees’ design defect case against the automobile manufacturer, alleging that the vehicles were defectively designed when the regulators failed to properly support the side windows, because under Daubert, the opinion was unreliable due to the expert’s failure to utilize a workable standard supporting his life-of-the-vehicle design defect theory, the lack of supporting studies or testing to demonstrate a common design defect, and deficiencies in the expert’s methodology; Identification of general potential problems in the absence of the identification of a specific defect present in all the regulators did not constitute an opinion that fit plaintiffs’ class-certification argument.