Split court says arbitrator made the wrong call
Monday, September 21, 2009
Confronting an issue faced by many consumers, an appellate court sought to answer when and under what circumstances judicial review of an arbitration award is proper.
Roger Burlage and Cheryl Burlage bought a house in a gated community from Martha Martinez Spencer, only to discover that their swimming pool and wrought iron fence encroached upon land owned by the country club.
The parties went to an arbitrator to settle their dispute over the home sale. The arbitrator awarded the Burlages approximately $1.5 million. On motion from Spencer, the trial court vacated the award, finding that the arbitrator mistakenly excluded evidence that the title company paid $10,950 to the Burlages to compensate them.
The issue: Whether the arbitrator excluded important key evidence that substantially prejudiced the Spencer, the seller. In a decision written by Justice Arthur Gilbert, the court held that “while arbitrators have a great deal of power they do not have absolute power.”
Justice Steve Z. Perren dissented in the 2-1 ruling. Roger Burlage v. The Superior Court of Ventura County. Court of Appeal 2nd Dist. Div.6 (B211431)
—By Steve Ingram
Category: Appellate Reports;