California Supreme Court To Tackle Arbitration, Foreclosures and Peer Review in Upcoming Oral Arguments

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In addition to the more typical criminal issues, the oral arguments scheduled for April 3 and 4 in L.A. will also address when to compel arbitration, foreclosure sales and hospital peer review.

On the April 3, the court has two arbitration cases scheduled. The Supreme Court will take a second look at Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc., having previously held that contractual arbitration of a wage claim could not be compelled until after the preliminary non-binding hearing and decision by the Labor Commissioner addressing the same claim. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has since vacated that judgment and ordered further consideration in light of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U.S.__, which upheld contractual arbitration under the FAA even when the arbitration provision was found unconscionable by state law because it barred class arbitration.

Also in an employment context, the court will address in City of Los Angeles whether grievances over imposed furloughs are subject to contractual arbitration, or whether that would be an improper transfer of the city’s discretionary salary-setting and budget-making powers.

On the next day, the court addresses two other issues, foreclosure sales and peer review. The trustee in Biancalana made an error in processing the beneficiary’s “credit bid” during foreclosure proceedings, and thereby announced a required opening bid only a tenth of the intended value. Since it had not yet issued the deed of trust to the highest bidder at the foreclosure sale when the error was discovered, can the trustee set aside the foreclosure sale?

In El-Attar, the Court will address whether the executive committee of the hospital medical staff can delegate to the hospital governing board its authority to designate a peer review panel, and if the review process needs to be restarted if it has already done so.

Look for opinions in each of these cases by July 2013, as the court typically issued opinions within 90 days of the case being submitted.