Can an Agricultural Employee Rely on the Statutory “Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation” Process?   After the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed a decision of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board and denied a petition for peremptory writ of mandate, the Court granted review on the following issues: (1) Does the statutory “Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation” process (Lab. Code, §§ 1164-1164.13) violate the equal protection clauses of the state and federal Constitutions? (2) Do the “Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation” statutes effect an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power? (3) May an employer oppose a certified union’s request for referral to the “Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation” process by asserting that the union has “abandoned” the bargaining unit? Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., S227243, (opinion below F068526, formerly 236 Cal.App.4th 1024). Review was granted 8/21/17.

Under FAA, Are Statutory Claims for Public Injunctive Relief Subject to Mandatory Arbitration? After the Court of Appeal reversed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration, the Court granted review on following issue: Does the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.), as interpreted in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U.S. 321, preempt the California rule (Broughton v. Cigna Healthplans (1999) 21 Cal.4th 1066; Cruz v. PacifiCare Health Systems, Inc. (2003) 30 Cal.4th 303) that statutory claims for public injunctive relief are not subject to compulsory private arbitration? McGill v. Citibank, N.A., S224086, (opinion below G049838, formerly 232 Cal.App.4th 753). Review was granted 4/1/15.

Who Determines Whether an Agreement Provides for Class Arbitration?
After the Court of Appeal found that the arbitrator should decide, and reversed an order in a civil action, the Court granted review on the following issue: Does the trial court or the arbitrator decide whether an arbitration agreement provides for class arbitration if the agreement itself is silent on the issue? Sandquist v. Lebo Automotive, Inc., S220812 (opinion below B244412, formerly 228 Cal.App.4th 65). Review was granted 11/12/14.  Update 1/14/15: Review granted in Network Capital Funding Corp. v. Papke, S222638 (opinion below G049172, formerly 23 Cal.App.4th 503), with briefing deferred pending a decision in SandquistUpdate 4/1/15: Review granted in Rivers v. Cedar-Sinai Medical Care Foundation, S224592 (opinion below B249979, nonpublished), with briefing deferred pending SandquistUpdate 6/10/15: Review granted in Universal Protection Service, L.P. v. Superior Court, S225450, (opinion below D066919, formerly 234 Cal.App.4th 1128). Briefing is deferred pending a decision in SandquistUpdate 10/28/15: After the Third District Court of Appeal denying a petition seeking to challenge arbitration, the Court granted review in Universal Protection Service, LP v. Superior Court, S229442, (opinion below C078557, formerly 239 Cal.App.4th 697). Briefing is deferred pending resolution of SandquistUpdate 4/1/16: Oral argument scheduled for 5/3/16.

Does a Stay for Purposes of Mediation Toll the 5-year Limit to Bring the Matter to Trial? After the Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment in a civil action, the Court granted review on the following issue: Was this action properly dismissed for the failure to bring it to trial within five years or should the period during which the action was stayed for purposes of mediation have been excluded under C.C.P. § 583.340(b) or (c)? Gaines v. Fidelity National Title Ins. Co., S215990 (opinion below B244961, formerly 222 Cal.App.4th 25). Review granted on 4/16/14.  Update 7/29/15: The Court directed the parties to file supplemental letter briefs on the following issues: (1) Did the trial court’s April 3, 2008 order “striking the current Trial Date of September 22, 2008” constitute a stay of the “trial of the action” under C.C.P. § 583.340, subdivision (b)? (2) What factors distinguish between a stay of trial and a continuance of trial for purposes of C.C.P. § 583.340(b)? Update 10/29/15: Oral argument scheduled 12/2/15. The briefs are here.  Update 12/2/15: Case argued and submitted.  Update 2/25/16: Opinion filed. Divided 5-2, the Court affirmed the appellate court and the dismissal of this action, with Justice Corrigan writing for the majority. The Court held that this stipulated “mediation stay” was only a partial stay and so did not satisfy C.C.P. § 583.340(b), and that it also did not result in circumstances of “impossibility, impracticability, or futility” under C.C.P. § 583.340(c), and therefore found no exception to the 5-year dismissal rule of C.C.P. § 583.310. The Court noted that the plaintiffs (1) “made meaningful progress toward resolving the case” during the stay, including the completion of all pending discovery and pursuing mediation, (2) remained “in control of the circumstances,” including entering into the voluntary stay, and (3) failed to show due diligence during the 120-day stay, which ended up being 217 days long. Justice Kruger dissented, joined by Justice Liu, insisting that the original 120 days in which the court stayed the action falls within the statutory language, i.e., that the “prosecution or trial of the action was stayed or enjoined” by the trial court, making trial impracticable, and further citing the Legislative preference that cases be resolved on their merits.

Is Employment Arbitration Agreement Unconscionable if One Party Is More Likely to Use the Relief Provided? Is an employment arbitration agreement unconscionable for lack of mutuality if it contains a clause providing that either party may seek provisional injunctive relief in the courts and the employer is more likely to seek such relief? Baltazar v. Forever 21, Inc., S208345 (opinion below B237173, formerly 212 Cal.App.4th 221). Review was granted 3/20/13, but briefing was deferred pending the decision in Wisdom v. Accentcare, Inc., S200128. Update 7/24/13: Review dismissed in Wisdom due to settlement. Update 8/28/13: Briefing ordered on the above issue. Update 9/11/13: Review granted in Leos v. Darden Restaurant, Inc., S212511 (opinion below B241630, formerly 217 Cal.App.4th 473), with briefing deferred pending decision in BaltazarUpdate 9/30/15: The Court granted review in Sabia v. Orange County Metro Realty, Inc., S208716,  (opinion below B243141, formerly 227 Cal.App.4th 11), but briefing was deferred pending the resolution of Baltazar. Briefing in Sabia was previously deferred pending the resolution of Sanchez, S199119 (see 61 Cal.4th 899).  Update 12/3/15: Oral argument scheduled for 1/5/16.  The briefs are here.  Update 1/5/16: Case argued and submitted.  Update 3/28/16: Opinion issued.  The unanimous Court affirmed the Court of Appeal, finding that since the subject provision simply repeated the applicable law, i.e, C.C.P. § 1281.8(b), it did not render the arbitration agreement unconscionable.