This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 03/10/2021 at 07:56:17 (UTC).

THE LAW OFFICES OF LARRY H. PARKER, INC. VS ISRAEL RENDON, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 10/30/2020 THE LAW OFFICES OF LARRY H PARKER, INC filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against ISRAEL RENDON. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is SERENA R. MURILLO. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******9177

  • Filing Date:

    10/30/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

SERENA R. MURILLO

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

THE LAW OFFICES OF LARRY H. PARKER INC.

Defendants

CASILLAS KARLA

RENDON ISRAEL

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Other Attorneys

BECK RONALD

 

Court Documents

Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

11/6/2020: Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

11/6/2020: Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

Complaint - Complaint

10/30/2020: Complaint - Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

10/30/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Summons - Summons on Complaint

10/30/2020: Summons - Summons on Complaint

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

10/30/2020: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

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

10/30/2020: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

 

Docket Entries

  • 11/03/2023
  • Hearing11/03/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service

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  • 04/29/2022
  • Hearing04/29/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 11/06/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by: The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. (Plaintiff); As to: Karla Casillas (Defendant); Service Date: 11/04/2020; Service Cost: 35.00; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 11/06/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by: The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. (Plaintiff); As to: Israel Rendon (Defendant); Service Date: 11/04/2020; Service Cost: 75.00; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. (Plaintiff); As to: Israel Rendon (Defendant); Karla Casillas (Defendant)

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. (Plaintiff); As to: Israel Rendon (Defendant); Karla Casillas (Defendant)

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. (Plaintiff); As to: Israel Rendon (Defendant); Karla Casillas (Defendant)

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 04/29/2022 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 11/03/2023 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 10/30/2020
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Serena R. Murillo in Department 26 Spring Street Courthouse

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STLC09177    Hearing Date: May 20, 2021    Dept: 26

The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. v. Rendon, et al.                                                MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND STAY PROCEEDINGS

(CCP §§ 1281.2, et seq.; Cal. Bus. & Profs. Code § 6201)

TENTATIVE RULING:

 Defendants Israel Rendon and Karla Casillas’s Motion to Compel Non-Binding Arbitration is GRANTED UNDER THE MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION ACT SET FORTH AT CAL. BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE SECTION 6200, ET SEQ.

THE ACTION IS STAYED PENDING ARBITRATION. POST-ARBITRATION STATUS CONFERENCE IS SET FOR NOVEMBER 20, 2021 AT _____ AM IN DEPARTMENT 26 IN THE SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for breach of retainer agreement and common counts against Defendants Israel Rendon and Karla Casillas on October 30, 2020. Following their failure to respond, the Court entered default against Defendants on March 18, 2021. On May 11, 2021, the Court granted Defendants’ motion to vacate the default.

Defendants filed the instant Motion to Compel Arbitration (“the Motion”) on April 14, 2021. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the Motion on April 27, 2021.

Legal Standard

“On petition of a party to an arbitration agreement alleging the existence of a written agreement to arbitrate a controversy and that a party thereto refuses to arbitrate such controversy, the court shall order the petitioner and the respondent to arbitrate the controversy if it determines that an agreement to arbitrate the controversy exists, unless it determines that: (a) The right to compel arbitration has been waived by the petitioner; or (b) Grounds exist for the revocation of the agreement.” (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1281.2, subds. (a)-(b).) As with other types of agreements, “[t]he failure of the [party] to carefully read the agreement and the amendment is not a reason to refuse to enforce the arbitration provisions.” (Powers v. Dickson, Carlson & Campillo (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 1102, 1115.) “California law, ‘like [federal law], reflects a strong policy favoring arbitration agreements and requires close judicial scrutiny of waiver claims.’” (Wagner Const. Co. v. Pacific Mechanical Corp. (2007) 41 Cal.4th 19, 31.) If the court orders arbitration, then the court shall stay the action until arbitration is completed. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1281.4.)

Discussion

Defendants move for non-binding arbitration pursuant to the Mandatory Fee Arbitration Act, set forth at Cal. Business & Professions Code section 6201 and the California Arbitration Act, set forth at Code of Civil Procedure section 1281, et seq.

It is undisputed between the parties that they entered into an arbitration agreement, which Defendant executed on October 9, 2020. (Motion, Vasandani Decl., ¶¶4-5 and Exhs. A-B.) The parties’ disagreement centers on Defendants’ desire to engage in nonbinding arbitration, despite having inadvertently agreed to binding arbitration. (Id. at ¶6.) Plaintiff will not stipulate to non-binding arbitration. (Id. at ¶7.)

Defendants point to Aguilar v. Lerner (2004) 32 Cal.4th 974, in which the plaintiff entered into a retainer agreement with an attorney to obtain a marital dissolution. (Aguilar v. Lerner (2004) 32 Cal.4th 974, 980.) The retainer agreement included an arbitration provision, which the plaintiff initialed without reading. (Ibid.) Following a dispute between the plaintiff and the attorney, the plaintiff brought an action for professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. (Ibid.) The attorney petitioned to compel arbitration of the claims, which the trial court granted and ruled that the results of the arbitration would be binding. (Id. at 981.) The attorney prevailed in the arbitration and the trial court entered judgment in her favor. (Ibid.) Following the plaintiff’s appeal of the judgment, the Court of Appeals affirmed. (Ibid.) The California Supreme Court then granted review. (Ibid.)

The plaintiff’s argument sought to apply the statutory rights exception to the rule of arbitral finality. Specifically, “that there may be some limited and exceptional circumstances justifying judicial review of an arbitrator’s decision.... Such cases would include those in which granting finality to an arbitrator’s decision would be inconsistent with the protection of a party’s statutory rights.” (Id. at 982 [citing Moncharsh v. Heily & Blase (1992) 3 Cal.4th 1, 32].) The statutory rights to which the plaintiff appealed were set forth in the Mandatory Fee Arbitration Act (“MFAA”), which constitutes a separate and distinct arbitration scheme from the California Arbitration Act (“CAA”). (Id. at 983.) The parties had arbitrated their claims under the CAA.

The MFAA differs from the CAA in a number of ways. (Id. at 984.) Relevantly, while awards rendered under the CAA are generally expected to be binding, “an award rendered pursuant to an arbitration under the MFAA is nonbinding, and either party may seek a trial de novo. (Ibid. (emphasis added.) The MFAA, however, also provides that the parties may agree in writing that the arbitrator’s award will be binding.” (Id. at 985.)

In this action, the parties agreed to binding arbitration, which Defendants contend was inadvertent. The Client Petition for Arbitration signed by Defendants specifically states that “under the program’s policy, you must agree to binding arbitration unless you are disputing $10,000.00 or more (see line 8).” (Motion, Vasandani Decl., Exh. B, § 16, 4th para.) It appears from the terms of the agreement, that Defendants had no choice but to agree to binding arbitration.

Defendants now seek to compel nonbinding arbitration pursuant to the MFAA, which is their statutory right, regardless of the existence of an arbitration agreement for binding arbitration. The distinction is articulated by the Court of Appeals:

“The nature of the obligation to arbitrate under the MFAA differs from that under standard arbitration in two important ways. First, the obligation to arbitrate under the MFAA is based on a statutory directive and not the parties’ agreement. Thus, a client may invoke the MFAA and proceed to arbitration despite the absence of any prior agreement to do so. By contrast, standard arbitration requires that both parties to a dispute agree to arbitrate. [Citation.]

“Second, section 6200, subdivision (c) provides: ‘[A]rbitration under this article shall be voluntary for a client and shall be mandatory for an attorney if commenced by a client.’ In other words, whereas a client cannot be forced under the MFAA to arbitrate a dispute concerning legal fees, at the client's election an unwilling attorney can be forced to do so.

“The finality of an arbitration award under the MFAA also generally differs from an award rendered pursuant to standard arbitration under the CAA. Although parties choosing to resolve their dispute in standard arbitration pursuant to the CAA ‘typically expect’ that the arbitrator's decision will be final [citations], an award rendered pursuant to an arbitration under the MFAA is nonbinding, and either party may seek a trial de novo (§ 6204, subd. (a)). The MFAA, however, also provides that the parties may agree in writing that the arbitrator's award will be binding. (Ibid.)” (Aguilar, supra, 32 Cal.4th at pp. 983–985, 12 Cal.Rptr.3d 287, 88 P.3d 24.)

(Schatz v. Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP (2009) 45 Cal.4th 557, 565.) Therefore, when a client requests non-binding arbitration of an attorney fee dispute, they are entitled to an order compelling it under the MFAA.

Nor does it appear to the Court that by agreeing to binding arbitration on the Client Petition for Arbitration that Defendants waived their right to non-binding arbitration under the MFAA. The facts of this case are distinct from Aguilar, in which the plaintiff did waive his right to arbitrate under the MFAA by filing an action for malpractice against the attorney. (Aguilar v. Lerner (2004) 32 Cal.4th 974, 987; Cal. Bus. & Profs. Code § 6201 [“seeking affirmative relief against the attorney for damages or otherwise based upon alleged malpractice or professional misconduct.”].) The Court of Appeals also expressly found that the arbitration agreement between the plaintiff in Aguilar and his attorney did not waive the plaintiff’s rights under the MFAA. (Aguilar v. Lerner (2004) 32 Cal.4th 974, 988.) Likewise, that the Defendants in this action initially agreed to binding arbitration does not waive their right to non-binding arbitration under the MFAA.

Conclusion

Defendants Israel Rendon and Karla Casillas’s Motion to Compel Non-Binding Arbitration is GRANTED UNDER THE MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION ACT SET FORTH AT CAL. BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE SECTION 6200, ET SEQ.

THE ACTION IS STAYED PENDING ARBITRATION. POST-ARBITRATION STATUS CONFERENCE IS SET FOR NOVEMBER 20, 2021 AT _____ AM IN DEPARTMENT 26 IN THE SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE.

Moving party to give notice.

Case Number: 20STLC09177    Hearing Date: May 11, 2021    Dept: 26

The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. v. Rendon, et al.

MOTION TO VACATE DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(b))

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendants Israel Rendon and Karla Casillas’s Motion to Vacate Default is GRANTED.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for breach of retainer agreement and common counts against Defendants Israel Rendon and Karla Casillas on October 30, 2020. Following their failure to respond, the Court entered default against Defendants on March 18, 2021.

Defendants filed the instant Motion to Vacate Default (“the Motion”) on April 14, 2021. Defendants also concurrently filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the instant Motion to Vacate on April 27, 2021.

Discussion

Defendants move for relief from the default pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b), under which an application for relief must be made no more than six months after entry of the order from which relief is sought. (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (b).) The motion must also be accompanied by an affidavit of fault attesting to the mistake, inadvertence, surprise or neglect of the moving party or its attorney and a copy of the moving defendant’s proposed pleading. (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (b); English v. IKON Business Solutions (2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 130, 143.) Although Plaintiff complains that Defendants did not meet and confer prior to filing the Motion, there is no meet and confer requirement under this statute.

The Motion is timely brought one month after entry of default and is supported by an attorney affidavit of fault. Defense counsel declares that the deadline to file a responsive pleading was mis-calendared due to the parties being engaged in arbitration discussions. (Motion, Vasandani Decl., ¶¶12-13.) Contrary to Plaintiff’s argument, this explanation for failing to respond to the Complaint is sufficient for relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b). (Martin Potts & Associates, Inc. v. Corsair, LLC (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 432, 435-436 [“Must the attorney’s affidavit also disclose the reasons for his mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect? We conclude the answer is ‘no.’”].)

While the Motion is not accompanied by a copy of Defendant’s proposed responsive pleading, Defendants filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration on April 14, 2021. A petition to compel arbitration can be filed in lieu of an answer to the Complaint. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1281.7.) Therefore, the Court finds Defendants have substantially complied with the responsive pleading requirement under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b).

Conclusion

Defendants Israel Rendon and Karla Casillas’s Motion to Vacate Default is GRANTED.

Moving party to give notice.

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