This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/07/2020 at 07:37:42 (UTC).

HSI CHE WANG VS BETTY M. KWAN

Case Summary

On 04/01/2020 HSI CHE WANG filed an Other - Arbitration lawsuit against BETTY M KWAN. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JAMES E. BLANCARTE. The case status is Disposed - Dismissed.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******1218

  • Filing Date:

    04/01/2020

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Dismissed

  • Case Type:

    Other - Arbitration

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

JAMES E. BLANCARTE

 

Party Details

Petitioner

WANG HSI CHE AKA JAMES WANG

Respondent

KWAN BETTY M.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Petitioner Attorneys

LAU BENSON

SATNICK ADAM

 

Court Documents

Notice of Hearing on Petition - Notice of Hearing on Petition

4/1/2020: Notice of Hearing on Petition - Notice of Hearing on Petition

Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

4/1/2020: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

4/1/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award - Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award

4/1/2020: Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award - Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award

Summons - Summons on Petition

4/1/2020: Summons - Summons on Petition

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

4/1/2020: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

5/7/2020: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Notice (name extension) - Notice Petitioner's Notice of Non-Opposition by Respondent to Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award

6/15/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice Petitioner's Notice of Non-Opposition by Respondent to Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Petition Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award)

8/5/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Petition Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award)

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/05/2020
  • DocketOn the Petition filed by HSI CHE WANG on 04/01/2020, entered Order for Dismissal without prejudice as to the entire action

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  • 08/05/2020
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Petition Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award)

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  • 08/05/2020
  • DocketHearing on Petition Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award scheduled for 08/05/2020 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 updated: Result Date to 08/05/2020; Result Type to Held - Motion Granted

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  • 06/15/2020
  • DocketNotice Petitioner's Notice of Non-Opposition by Respondent to Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award; Filed by: HSI CHE WANG (Petitioner); As to: Betty M. Kwan (Respondent)

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  • 05/07/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by: HSI CHE WANG (Petitioner); As to: Betty M. Kwan (Respondent); Proof of Mailing Date: 04/30/2020; Service Cost: 174.00; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketNotice of Hearing on Petition; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketSummons on Petition; Issued and Filed by: HSI CHE WANG (Petitioner); As to: Betty M. Kwan (Respondent)

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: HSI CHE WANG (Petitioner); As to: Betty M. Kwan (Respondent)

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketPetition to Confirm Arbitration Award; Filed by: HSI CHE WANG (Petitioner); As to: Betty M. Kwan (Respondent)

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketHearing on Petition Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award scheduled for 08/05/2020 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 25 Spring Street Courthouse

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STCP01218    Hearing Date: March 11, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Thu., March 11, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Wang v. Kwan PET FILED: 04-01-20

CASE NUMBER: 20STCP01218 CONFIRMED: 08-05-20

NOTICE: OK JUDGMENT: 09-02-20

PROCEEDINGS: MOTION FOR STAY ON THE LIMITED COURT ACTION ORDER OF DATE 8/5/20 PENDING RESOLUTION OF RELATED CASE BC705315

MOVING PARTY: Respondent Betty M. Kwan, attorney in pro per

RESP. PARTY: Petitioner Hsi Che Wang

MOTION TO STAY EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT

(CCP §§ 918; 918.5)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Respondent Betty M. Kwan’s Motion for stay is DENIED.

In addition, Petitioner’s request for sanctions pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5 is GRANTED in the amount of $2,370.00 to be paid by Respondent within thirty (30) days of notice of this order.

SERVICE:

[X] Proof of Service Timely Filed (CRC, rule 3.1300) OK

[X] Correct Address (CCP §§ 1013, 1013a) OK

[X] 16/21 Court Days Lapsed (CCP §§ 12c, 1005(b)) OK

OPPOSITION: Filed on March 1, 2021 [X] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on March 2, 2021 [X] Late [ ] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

Petitioner Hsi Che Wang (“Petitioner”) filed a petition to confirm an arbitration award against Respondent Betty M. Kwan (“Respondent”) on April 1, 2020. The arbitration award required Respondent to refund Petitioner attorney’s fees paid of $8,940.00. (Pet., Lau Decl., ¶ 7, Exh. B.)

A hearing on the petition to confirm the arbitration award took place on August 5, 2020. Respondent did not oppose the petition and did not appear at the hearing. (8/5/20 Minute Order.) That same day, the Court confirmed the arbitration award and a judgment pursuant to the award was entered on September 2, 2020. (8/5/20 Minute Order; 9/2/20 Judgment.)

On August 31, 2020, Respondent filed the instant Motion for a Stay on the Limited Court Action Order of Date 8/5/20 Pending Resolution of Related Case BC705315 (the “Motion”).

Petitioner filed an Ex Parte Application for Order Denying Respondent’s Motion and for Monetary Sanctions Against Respondent (the “Ex Parte Application”) on December 4, 2020. The Court denied the Ex Parte Application on December 7, 2020, finding Petitioner failed to declare any irreparable harm or immediate danger as required by California Rules of Court section 3.1202, subdivision (c). (12/7/20 Minute Order.)

Petitioner filed an Opposition to the Motion on March 1, and Respondent filed a Reply on March 2.

  1. Petitioner’s Request for Judicial Notice

Petitioner’s request for judicial notice of (1) the civil case docket for the pending action entitled Wang v. Liu, et al., Case No. BC705315 (the “Unlimited Action”) filed on May 7, 2018; (2) the First Amended Complaint filed in the Unlimited Action; (3) the Second Amended Cross Complaint filed in the Unlimited Action; (4) the Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award filed in this action on April 1, 2020; (5) the Notice of Non-Opposition filed in this action on June 15, 2020; (6) the Notice of Ruling filed in this action on August 5, 2020; (7) the Abstract of Judgment recorded on October 9, 2020 with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office; and (8) the ex parte application filed in this action on December 4, 2020. (Mot., RJN, Exhs. 1-8.)

Petitioner’s request is GRANTED. (Evid. Code, § 452, subd. (d).)

  1. Legal Standard & Discussion

A. Respondent’s Request for Stay

Respondent seeks an indefinite stay of execution of the arbitration award judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 918 and 918.5 until the Unlimited Action is resolved. (Mot., p. 4:20-22.)

Code of Civil Procedure section 918 provides:

“(a) Subject to subdivision (b), the trial court may stay the enforcement of any judgment or order.

(b) If the enforcement of the judgment would be stayed on appeal only by giving of an undertaking, a trial court shall not have power, without the consent of the adverse party, to stay the enforcement thereof pursuant to this section for a period which extends for more than 10 days beyond the last date on which a notice of appeal could be filed.”

Although Respondent cites this section, she does not clearly explain why she is entitled to relief under this Section. Here no undertaking is involved, nor has she provided evidence Petitioner has given his consent to stay the enforcement of the judgment.

Code of Civil Procedure section 918.5 provides, in pertinent part:

“(a) The trial court may, in its discretion, stay the enforcement of a judgment or order if the judgment debtor has another action pending on a disputed claim against the judgment creditor.” (Emphasis added.)

Respondent argues that “in situations where justice requires a stay of execution, the court may do without the consent of the adverse party when there is another related case pending which in this case, another case pending is [the Unlimited Action] and fraud claim and allegations are alleged in the cross complaint by the two cross-complainants Mary Fong and Connie Liu.” (Mot., pp. 4:23-5:2.) However, it is unclear, and Respondent does not adequately explain, why Mary Fong and Connie Liu’s allegations of fraud support a stay of execution on the judgment entered against Respondent.

The Unlimited Action is currently pending in Department 74 at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. As Petitioner explains in his Opposition, the complaint in the Unlimited Action was initiated by Petitioner against Mary Mei Li Fong and Connie Ching Huei Liu (“Fong” and “Liu”). (Id., RJN, Exh. 2.) Fong and Liu filed a cross-complaint against Petitioner for breach of oral agreement, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, violation of the UCL, and for an accounting. (Id., Exh. 3.) Respondent is not a party to the Unlimited Action; rather, she was Petitioner’s attorney of record at some point. (Id., Exh. 2.) Because the Unlimited Action is not an action where Respondent, the judgment debtor, has a pending claim against Petitioner, the judgment creditor, Section 918.5 is entirely inapplicable.

Nor are the cases “related” as defined by California Rules of Court, rule 3.300. Rule 3.300 provides, in pertinent part: “A pending civil case is related to another pending civil case, or to a civil case that was dismissed with or without prejudice, or to a civil case that was disposed of by judgment, if the cases (1) [I]nvolve the same parties and are based on the same or similar claims.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.300, subd. (a).) (Emphasis added.)

As noted above, Respondent is not a party to the Unlimited Action. The actions are also not based on similar claims. The instant action concerns the confirmation of an arbitration award in an attorney-client fee dispute. (See 4/01/20 Pet.) The Unlimited Action concerns the purchase and development of a property. (RJN Exhs. 2, 3.)

Likewise, Respondent’s argument that she did not “have the opportunity to fully defend herself, to exercise [her] rights and privileges before the execution of this judgment based on a related case with charges of fraud against [Petitioner] and was materially undisclosed by [Petitioner]” is unpersuasive. The Court found Respondent was properly served with the petition to confirm the arbitration award but did not oppose it or appear at the hearing. (8/5/20 Minute Order.)

Respondent’s reply is similarly unavailing. First, Respondent does not respond to Petitioner’s arguments made in opposition. Rather, without citing any authority, she argues this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because attorney’s fees were awarded. (Reply, ¶¶ 3, 4.) However, Business and Professions Code section 6203, subdivision (c), provides that a court confirming an arbitration award may award the prevailing party reasonable fees and costs incurred in obtaining confirmation of that award. Respondent further argues, without citation to authority, that this court does not have subject matter jurisdiction because the amount in controversy in this action was below $10,000.00. (Reply, ¶ 2.) However, Code of Civil Procedure section 86, subdivision (10)(B), identifies a petition to confirm arbitration awards between an attorney and client where the amount is $25,000.00 or less, as being a limited jurisdiction case.

For all of the reasons noted above, the Court finds Respondent’s arguments unpersuasive. Indeed, a minimal amount of research would have revealed that her position on each of these issues was incorrect. Thus, Respondent’s Motion is DENIED.

B. Sanctions Pursuant to CCP § 128.5

1. Legal Standard

Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5 permits a trial court to “order a party, a party’s attorney, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by another party as a result of actions or tactics, made in bad faith, that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (a).) Actions or tactics include, but are not limited to, filing or opposing motions, complaints, answers, or other responsive pleadings. (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (b)(1).) “ ‘Frivolous’ means totally and completely without merit or for the sole purpose of harassing an opposing party.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (b)(2).) Bad faith is determined using a subjective standard. (In re Marriage of Sahafzadeh-Taeb & Taeb (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 139, 134-35.) Expenses pursuant to Section 128.5 cannot be imposed unless noticed in a party’s moving or responding papers, or on the court’s own motion after providing the offending party notice and an opportunity to be heard. (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (c).) An order imposing expenses must be in writing and must recite in detail the action, tactic, or circumstances justifying the order. (Id.)

Sanctions may also be awarded if the offending party is provided a 21-day safe harbor to withdraw or correct its actions. Specifically, “[i]f the alleged action or tactic is the making or opposing of a written motion or the filing and service of a complaint, cross-complaint, answer, or other responsive pleading that can be withdrawn or appropriately corrected, the court on its own motion may enter an order describing the specific action or tactic, made in bad faith, that is frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay, and direct an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why it has made an action or tactic as defined in subdivision (b), unless, within 21 days of service of the order to show cause, the challenged action or tactic is withdrawn or appropriately corrected.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (f)(1)(D)(1).) An award of sanctions may include an award of attorney’s fees incurred as a direct result of the offending party’s bath faith action or tactic. (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (f)(1)(D)(2).)

2. Discussion

In Opposition, Petitioner requests that the Court impose sanctions against Respondent pursuant to Section 128.5, subdivision (a), because her Motion is wholly devoid of any legal or factual basis and fails to include any declaration or supporting evidence. (Oppo., p. 8:17-21.) The Court agrees. As noted above, minimal research would have alerted Respondent that the statutory authority cited in support of her moving and reply papers was inapplicable. In addition, Respondent’s argument that she did not have an opportunity to defend herself before the arbitration award was confirmed is unsupported and contradicted by the Court’s record. As already noted, Respondent did not file an opposition to the petition to confirm the award nor appeared at the hearing. Respondent did not submit any evidence demonstrating otherwise.

Thus, the Court finds Respondent’s Motion is frivolous and solely intended to cause unnecessary delay in allowing Petitioner to collect on his judgment.

The court may award expenses incurred by a moving party as a result of the opposing party’s frivolous actions or actions that are solely intended to cause unnecessary delay under Section 128.5, subdivision (a). Expenses “shall not be imposed except on notice contained in the party’s moving or responding papers, or on the court’s own motion, after notice and an opportunity to be heard.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (c).)

Petitioner requests an award of $4,187.00 pursuant to Section 128.5 subdivision (a) for unnecessary attorney’s fees and costs incurred as a result of Respondent’s frivolous Motion. (Oppo., pp. 7:21-9:21.) Although the Opposition was filed less than nine court days before this hearing, it was timely served on Respondent via email on February 26, 2021. (Id., Proof of Service.) Thus, the Court finds Petitioner’s request for expenses was properly noticed.

Petitioner requests expenses of $4,187.00, based on 10.6 hours of attorney time billed at $395.00 per hour. (Id., Lau Decl., ¶ 7.) Having reviewed the opposing papers, the Court finds 6 hours to be reasonable. Thus, Respondent is ordered to pay Petitioner expenses of $2,370.00 within thirty (30) days of service of this order.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Respondent Betty M. Kwan’s Motion for stay is DENIED.

In addition, Petitioner’s request for sanctions pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5 is GRANTED in the amount of $2,370.00 to be paid by Respondent within thirty (30) days of notice of this order.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

Case Number: 20STCP01218    Hearing Date: August 05, 2020    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Wed., August 5, 2020 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Wang v. Kwan PET. FILED: 04-01-20

CASE NUMBER: 20STCP01218

NOTICE: NO

PROCEEDINGS: PETITION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD

MOVING PARTY: Petitioner Hsi Che Wang aka James Wang

RESP. PARTY: None

PETITION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD

(CCP § 1285, et seq.)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Petitioner Hsi Che Wang aka James Wang’s Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award is CONTINUED TO OCTOBER19, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next scheduled hearing, Petitioner must file and serve supplemental papers addressing the deficiencies identified herein. Failure to do so may result in the Petition being placed off calendar or denied.

SERVICE:

[X] Proof of Service Timely Filed (CRC, rule 3.1300) OK

[X] Correct Address (CCP §§ 1013, 1013a) OK

[ ] 16/21 Court Days Lapsed (CCP §§ 12c, 1005(b)) NO

OPPOSITION: None filed as of August 3, 2020 [ ] Late [X] None

REPLY: None filed as of August 3, 2020 [ ] Late [X] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On December 11, 2019, Arbitrator Patrick Maloney (the “Arbitrator”) with the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Committee on Arbitration rendered an award in favor of Petitioner Hsi Che Wang aka James Wang (“Petitioner”) and against Respondent Betty M. Kwan (“Respondent”) and Law Office of Betty M. Kwan in the amount of $8,940.00 plus interest at the prevailing legal rate from the 30th day after service of the award (the “Arbitration Award”). (Pet., Lau Decl., ¶ 7, Exh. B.)

On April 1, 2020, Petitioner initiated this action by filing the instant Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award (the “Petition”). To date, no opposition has been filed.

  1. Legal Standard

“Regardless of the particular relief granted, any arbitrator’s award is enforceable only when confirmed as a judgment of the superior court.” (O’Hare v. Municipal Resource Consultants (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 267, 278.) “Once a petition to confirm an award is filed, the superior court must select one of only four courses of action: it may confirm the award, correct and confirm it, vacate it, or dismiss the petition.” (EHM Productions, Inc. v. Starline Tours of Hollywood, Inc. (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 1058, 1063.) It is well settled that the scope of judicial review of arbitration awards is extremely narrow.” (California Faculty Assn. v. Superior Court (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 935, 943.) “Neither the trial court, nor the appellate court, may ‘review the merits of the dispute, the sufficiency of the evidence, or the arbitrator’s reasoning, nor may we correct or review an award because of an arbitrator’s legal or factual error, even if it appears on the award’s face.” (EHM Productions, supra, at p. 1063-64.)

  1. Discussion

A. Filing Requirements (CCP § 1285.4)

Code of Civil Procedure section 1285.4 states: “A petition under this chapter shall:

  1. Set forth the substance of or have attached a copy of the agreement to arbitrate unless the petitioner denies the existence of such an agreement.

  2. Set forth the names of the arbitrators.

(c) Set forth or have attached a copy of the award and the written opinion of the arbitrators, if any.”

Here, Petitioner states that the arbitration was the result of Petitioner’s request for a binding fee arbitration pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 6200 through 6206, attaches a copy of the Arbitration Award, and sets forth the name of the neutral arbitrator. Thus, Petitioner has satisfied the above requirements.

B. Service of the Arbitration Award, Petition, and Notice of Hearing (CCP §§ 1283.6, 1290.4.)

Code of Civil Procedure, section 1283.6 provides that “[t]he neutral arbitrator shall serve a signed copy of the award on each party to the arbitration personally or by registered or certified mail or as provided in the agreement.”  (Italics added.)

Code of Civil Procedure, section 1290.4 states, in pertinent part:

“(a) A copy of the petition and a written notice of the time and place of the hearing thereof and any other papers upon which the petition is based shall be served in the manner provided in the arbitration agreement for the service of such petition and notice.

(b) If the arbitration agreement does not provide the manner in which such service shall be made and the person upon whom service is to be made has not previously appeared in the proceeding and has not previously been served in accordance with this subdivision: ¶ (1) Service within this State shall be made in the manner provided by law for the service of summons in an action.”

(Italics added.)

Finally, a party may seek a court judgment confirming an arbitration award by filing and serving a petition at least 10 days, but no more than four years after the award is served on Respondents and Petitioners.  (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1288, 1288.4.) (Italics added.)

Here, Petitioner included a proof of service demonstrating the Arbitrator served a copy of the Arbitration Award the parties on December 20, 2019 via first-class mail. (Pet., Lau Decl., ¶ 7, Exh. B.) As noted above, Code of Civil Procedure section 1283.6 requires that the neutral arbitrator’s service by mail be done by registered or certified mail. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1283.6.) (Italics added.) However, a Court may confirm an arbitration award despite an irregularity in service by the arbitrator when the non-moving party has not suffered any prejudice. (Murray v. Civil Service Emp. Ins. Co. (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 796, 799; see also United Brotherhood of Carpenters etc., Local 642 v. Demello (1972) 22 Cal.App.3d 838, 840 [affirming confirmation of arbitration award despite an irregularity in statutory signature requirements because appellant did not demonstrate it was prejudiced by said statutory violation].) Here, the Arbitrator served both parties by mail, albeit in a slightly different manner than required by statute. Respondent was also served with a copy of the Arbitration Award with this Petition. Indeed, “the sole function of the service of an award upon the parties to an arbitration is to give them notice of the existence and contents of the award.” (Murray v. Civil Service Emp. Ins. Co., supra, at p. 799.) The Court finds that function was satisfied here, and Respondent has not filed an opposition demonstrating otherwise.

Petitioner also filed a proof of service demonstrating that on April 30, 2020, Respondent was served with a copy of the Petition and Notice of Hearing by substitute service. (5/7/20 Proof of Service.) However, the Notice of Hearing is completely devoid of information regarding the date, time, and place of the hearing. (Petition, p. 1.) Petitioner later filed a Notice of Non-Opposition which noted the correct hearing date and time, but the attached proof of service is not signed. (6/15/20 Notice of Non-Opposition, proof of service.) Thus, the Court cannot find Respondent was given adequate notice of this hearing.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Petitioner Hsi Che Wang aka James Wang’s Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award is CONTINUED TO OCTOBER 19, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next scheduled hearing, Petitioner must file and serve supplemental papers addressing the deficiencies identified herein. Failure to do so may result in the Petition being placed off calendar or denied.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

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