Ehlert Hicks and trial lawyers Jaret & Jaret recently succeeded in defending a trial court ruling denying an employer’s petition for arbitration. The plaintiff employee filed a discrimination and defamation complaint against her employer, a skilled nursing facility in Marin County. The employer contended that the plaintiff had agreed to arbitrate her claims when she completed the new-hire onboarding process. The trial court found otherwise. It credited the substantial evidence presented by the plaintiff showing that the employer’s human resources manager had electronically onboarded new employees, including plaintiff, and had signed the employer’s arbitration agreement on their behalf and without their knowledge or consent. The Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing with the trial court that the employer had failed to authenticate the plaintiff’s electronic signature as her own and that therefore no valid arbitration agreement existed. The case will now be litigated in the trial court.
Most writ petitions in the California Courts of Appeal are summarily denied but Ehlert Hicks, along with trial counsel Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams, recently obtained a win on behalf of a sexual-assault victim. The plaintiff–a medical doctor and post-graduate fellow at a teaching hospital jointly operated by the University of Southern California and Los Angeles County–sought to depose the former dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine (“KSOM”) concerning what KSOM and USC did, or failed to do, in response to the on-the-job sexual assault and ensuing retaliation the plaintiff suffered. The trial court entirely precluded the deposition from going forward, but after extensive briefing, the Court of Appeal issued an alternative writ instructing the trial court to vacate its order. The trial court promptly did so.