Judge: Stephen I. Goorvitch, Case: 20STCP04263, Date: 2023-03-13 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 20STCP04263    Hearing Date: March 13, 2023    Dept: 39

James River Insurance Company v. Jerry Luss

Case Number 20STCP04263

Motion to Compel Arbitration


            The parties have not yet arbitrated this case.  Now, Respondent Jerry Luss moves the Court to appoint a neutral arbitrator pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.6.  However, the record reflects that the parties have agreed upon an arbitrator.


Initially, Respondent’s counsel suggested several arbitrators, including Amy Solomon, to whom Petitioner’s counsel agreed.  (Declaration of Jamal J. Atiba, ¶ 6.)  However, Ms. Solomon informed the parties that she was declining the appointment.  (Ibid.)  On November 4, 2022, Respondent’s counsel agreed to use Janet Field, Lauren Tate, and R.A. Carrington.  (Declaration of Jamal J. Atiba, ¶ 10 & Exh I.)  Petitioner’s counsel sent an email stating that she would “reach out to Ms. Fields, Ms. Tate, and Mr. Carrington regarding arbitration dates,” and Respondent’s counsel responded: “2-day Arb is fine.”  (Id., Exh. I.)  Two days prior, Respondent’s counsel had stated that “[i]f it’s between Fields and Carrington, whoever is first available we’d agree to.”  (Id., Exh. G.)  This motion was filed on December 6, 2021, after which the parties agreed upon Carrington.  (Id., ¶ 15.)  Carrington confirmed that he would available on May 31 and June 1, 2023.  (Id., Exh. M.)  Respondent’s counsel expressed a preference for May 24 and May 25, 2023.  (Ibid.)  On January 13, 2023, Carrington agreed on the dates of May 24 and May 25, 2023, and asked the parties to sign and return the notices and deposits.  (Id. ¶ 16 & Exh. N.)  About one month later, on February 16, 2023, Carrington contacted counsel again and asked whether the arbitration would be on May 24/25 or May 31/June 1.  (Id., Exh. P.)  Someone from Respondent’s counsel’s office confirmed that the arbitration would be May 24 and May 25, 2023, and Respondent’s counsel was copied on the email.  (Ibid.)  There is no record of any objection to Carrington by Respondent’s counsel.  Tellingly, Respondent’s counsel did not file a reply brief or declaration disputing this record. 


            The Court is unclear why the motion was not withdrawn in favor of a stipulation and proposed order.  The Court is troubled because Respondent’s motion contains a series of inaccurate statements.  For example, the record does not reflect that Petitioner’s counsel “refuses to make an informal attempt at reaching an agreement on any methods of appointing an arbitrator” and “refuses to participate or cooperate to reach an agreement by which an arbitrator can be selected.”  (Respondent’s Motion, p. 2.)  To the contrary, the record reflects that the parties discussed and agreed upon an arbitrator, and that there was no need for this motion.  Not only are Respondent’s counsel’s accusations untrue, his approach reflects a lack of mindfulness.  At present, the Court has 644 open cases and currently is presiding over a jury trial.  Unnecessary motions deprive other litigants of their access to justice.     


             “If the arbitration agreement provides a method of appointing an arbitrator, that method shall be followed.”  Respondent did not provide any information or documentation on this issue.  In the alternative, the parties “may agree on a method of appointing an arbitrator and that method shall be followed.”  The parties have done so in stipulating to R.A. Carrington.  Based upon the foregoing, the Court orders as follows:


            1.         Respondent’s motion is granted.  The Court orders the parties to use R.A. Carrington as the arbitrator pursuant to their stipulation.


            2.         The Court finds that there was no good cause for this motion to have been filed.  The Court finds that there was no good cause for Respondent’s counsel having not taken the motion off-calendar before the hearing date.   


            3.         The Court orders the parties to meet-and-confer concerning arbitration dates.  The Court declines to set an arbitration completion date at this time.


            4.         The Court continues the Order to Show Cause re: Dismissal to June 26, 2023, at 8:30 a.m.  The Court orders counsel for both parties to appear either remotely or in-person.


            5.         Petitioner’s counsel shall provide notice and file proof of such with the Court.