This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/29/2019 at 00:27:58 (UTC).

THEATRICAL MEDIA, LLC, ET AL. VS WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA WEST, INC.

Case Summary

On 04/23/2019 a Other case was filed by THEATRICAL MEDIA, LLC against WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA WEST, INC in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******1452

  • Filing Date:

    04/23/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Other

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

WENDY CHANG

 

Party Details

Petitioners

FISCHER SCOTT

THEATRICAL MEDIA LLC

Respondent

WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA WEST INC.

 

Court Documents

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration DECLARATION OF SEAN D. GRAHAM IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENT/CROSS-PETITIONER'S PETITION TO CONFIRM CONTRACTUAL ARBITRATION AWARD

5/16/2019: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration DECLARATION OF SEAN D. GRAHAM IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENT/CROSS-PETITIONER'S PETITION TO CONFIRM CONTRACTUAL ARBITRATION AWARD

Notice of Hearing on Petition - Notice of Hearing on Petition

5/16/2019: Notice of Hearing on Petition - Notice of Hearing on Petition

Petition (name extension) - Petition PETITION TO CONFIRM CONTRACTUAL ARBITRATION AWARD

5/16/2019: Petition (name extension) - Petition PETITION TO CONFIRM CONTRACTUAL ARBITRATION AWARD

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

5/28/2019: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF SEAN D. GRAHAM IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS RESPONSE/OPPOSITION TO PETITION TO VACATE AWARD OF ARBITRATOR

5/15/2019: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF SEAN D. GRAHAM IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS RESPONSE/OPPOSITION TO PETITION TO VACATE AWARD OF ARBITRATOR

Response to Petition - Response to Petition RESPONDENT'S RESPONSE/OPPOSITION TO PETITION TO VACA TE AW ARD OF ARBITRATOR

5/15/2019: Response to Petition - Response to Petition RESPONDENT'S RESPONSE/OPPOSITION TO PETITION TO VACA TE AW ARD OF ARBITRATOR

Objection (name extension) - Objection EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF SCOTT FISHER IN SUPPORT OF PETITION TO VACATE; AND [PROPOSED] ORDER

5/15/2019: Objection (name extension) - Objection EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF SCOTT FISHER IN SUPPORT OF PETITION TO VACATE; AND [PROPOSED] ORDER

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

4/23/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Petition (name extension) - Petition Notice of Petition and Petition to Vacate Award of Arbitrator

4/23/2019: Petition (name extension) - Petition Notice of Petition and Petition to Vacate Award of Arbitrator

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

4/23/2019: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

Notice of Hearing on Petition - Notice of Hearing on Petition

4/23/2019: Notice of Hearing on Petition - Notice of Hearing on Petition

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

4/23/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/30/2019
  • DocketHearing on Motion - Other Re: Respondent/Cross-Petitioner's Petition to Confirm Contractual Aritration Award scheduled for 08/27/2019 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 05/28/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by: Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (Respondent); As to: Theatrical Media, LLC (Petitioner); Scott Fischer (Petitioner)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • DocketPetition PETITION TO CONFIRM CONTRACTUAL ARBITRATION AWARD; Filed by: Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (Respondent); As to: Theatrical Media, LLC (Petitioner); Scott Fischer (Petitioner)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • DocketNotice of Hearing on Petition; Filed by: Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (Respondent)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • DocketDeclaration DECLARATION OF SEAN D. GRAHAM IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENT/CROSS-PETITIONER'S PETITION TO CONFIRM CONTRACTUAL ARBITRATION AWARD; Filed by: Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (Respondent)

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  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketObjection EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF SCOTT FISHER IN SUPPORT OF PETITION TO VACATE; AND [PROPOSED] ORDER; Filed by: Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (Respondent)

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  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketResponse to Petition RESPONDENT'S RESPONSE/OPPOSITION TO PETITION TO VACA TE AW ARD OF ARBITRATOR; Filed by: Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (Respondent)

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  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketDeclaration OF SEAN D. GRAHAM IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS RESPONSE/OPPOSITION TO PETITION TO VACATE AWARD OF ARBITRATOR; Filed by: Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (Respondent)

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  • 04/23/2019
  • DocketPetition Notice of Petition and Petition to Vacate Award of Arbitrator; Filed by: Theatrical Media, LLC (Petitioner); Scott Fischer (Petitioner)

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  • 04/23/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Theatrical Media, LLC (Petitioner); Scott Fischer (Petitioner)

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  • 04/23/2019
  • DocketNotice of Hearing on Petition; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/23/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/23/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/23/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Wendy Chang in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 04/23/2019
  • DocketHearing on Petition Notice of Petition and Petition to Vacate Award of Arbitrator scheduled for 08/27/2019 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STCP01452    Hearing Date: November 07, 2019    Dept: 94

TENTATIVE RULING:

The Court hereby rules on the Petition of Theatrical Media, Inc. and Scott Fischer to Vacate Arbitration Award. THE COURT DECLINES TO RULE ON THE PETITION TO VACATE AS TO THEATRICAL MEDIA, INC. AND DENIES THE PETITION TO VACATE AS TO SCOTT FISCHER.

Writers Guild of American West, Inc.’s Petition to Confirm of Arbitration Award is GRANTED AND JUDGMENT TO BE ENTERED IN CONFORMITY THEREWITH. PROPOSED ORDER TO BE SUBMITTED WITHIN TEN (10) DAYS.

 

ANALYSIS:

I. Background

On January 14, 2019, an arbitrator awarded Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. (“Writers Guild”) $19,190 in damages plus finance charges of 18 % per year “on unpaid balance of each Principal Amount commencing on the date that is fourteen (14) days following the Contract Date of each option/purchase agreement” until the finance charges are paid in full, as well as $2,700 in arbitration fees, against Theatrical Media, LLC (“Theatrical Media”) and Scott Fischer (“Mr. Fischer”), jointly and severally. (Pet., Arbitration Agreement.)

On April 23, 2019, TML and Mr. Fischer filed in pro per the instant Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award (“Petition to Vacate”). On May 15, 2019, Writers Guild filed an Opposition to the Petition to Vacate, and the next day filed a Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award (“Petition to Confirm”). Both Petitions came for hearing on August 27, 2019. At that time, the Court determined that Theatrical Media was improperly before the Court in propria persona. The Court also found that Writers Guild had not demonstrated proper service of its opposition to the Petition to Vacate. With respect to the Petition to Confirm, the Court determined that Writers Guild had not properly served Theatrical Media. Based on these defects, the Court continued the hearing on both Petitions.

II. Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award

To date, Theatrical Media has not filed anything demonstrating that it has obtained legal counsel as required to appear before this Court. Accordingly, the Court cannot consider the Petition to Vacate with respect to Theatrical Media and only makes its ruling as to Scott Fischer. The Court further notes that Writers Guild has not filed anything demonstrating service of its opposition to the Petition to Vacate, so the Court will not consider it.

Fischer moves to vacate the arbitration award pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1286.2, which states in pertinent part:

(a) Subject to Section 1286.4, the court shall vacate the award if the court determines any of the following:

(1) The award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means.

(2) There was corruption in any of the arbitrators.

(3) The rights of the party were substantially prejudiced by misconduct of a neutral arbitrator.

(4) The arbitrators exceeded their powers and the award cannot be corrected without affecting the merits of the decision upon the controversy submitted.

(6) An arbitrator making the award . . . (B) was subject to disqualification upon grounds specified in Section 1281.91 but failed upon receipt of timely demand to disqualify himself or herself as required by that provision. . . .

(Code Civ. Proc., § 1286.2, subd. (a).) Fischer argues that the arbitration award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means, his rights were prejudiced by the arbitrator’s misconduct, and his rights were substantially prejudiced by the arbitrator’s refusal to postpone the hearing. (Notice of Petition to Vacate, pp. 1:24-2:2.)

Specifically, Fischer contends that the Award is based on a contract in which the signature of the person who signed for Theatrical Media—Hector Echevarria—was clearly forged. (Petition to Vacate, Fischer Decl., ¶5.1.) Fischer further argues that by awarding Writers Guild compensation on a clearly fraudulent contract, the arbitrator substantially prejudiced his rights. (Id. at ¶5.2.) He further argues that he was substantially prejudiced by being ordered to pay 50 percent of the court reporter fee, and by the arbitrator’s determination that the writer on whose behalf Writers Guild sought compensation was a professional writer. (Id. at ¶¶5.2 and 6.)

This declaration and supporting documentation does not demonstrate a legal basis to vacate the Award. Fischer merely shows that he disagrees with the findings of the arbitrator based on the purported validity of the evidence he submitted during arbitration. This does not show that the arbitrator’s decision was based on corruption, fraud or other undue means. Fischer relies on Pour Le Bebe, Inc. v. Guess? Inc. (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 810, 827 for the proposition that anything that amounts to fraud or that deprives a party of a fair and impartial hearing is grounds to set aside the award. But Fischer does not point to any fraud or other conduct that deprived him of a fair hearing. That the arbitrator reached a decision on highly contested issues in Writers Guild’s favor does not demonstrate fraud. Fischer’s contention that the arbitrator came the wrong conclusion on the issue of Echevarria’s signature or Pelletier’s status as a professional writer is simply a dispute regarding the merits of the issues that he had an opportunity to present to the arbitrator. There is no evidence of fraud, corruption or other undue means, that the arbitrator acted improperly, or that the arbitrator refused to postpone the hearing.

Therefore, the Petition of Scott Fischer to Vacate the Arbitration Award is DENIED.

III. Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award

Service of the Petition and Notice of Hearing

Code of Civil Procedure, section 1290.4 requires the Petition and Notice of Hearing to be served on the respondent “in the manner provided in the arbitration agreement for the service of such petition and notice” or “[i]f the arbitration agreement does not provide the manner in which such service shall be made . . . [s]ervice within this State shall be made in the manner provided by law for the service of summons in an action.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1290.4, subds. (a), (b).)

Writers Guild filed proof of service demonstrating service of the Petition to Confirm and Notice of Hearing on Theatrical Media and Fischer by certified mail on September 27, 2019. (Petition to Confirm, Cole Decl., filed 10/2/19, Exh. C.) The arbitration agreement permits service by certified mail. (Id. at Exh. B, Art. 11.A.6.d.) Writers Guild, therefore, has demonstrated compliance with the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure, section 1290.4

Service of the Arbitration Award (CCP §§ 1283.6, 1288)

Writers Guild also demonstrates service of the arbitration award, as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 1283.6, on January 18, 2019. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 1288, a petition to confirm arbitration must be filed and served no more than four years after the award was served. Here, the Petition to Confirm was served four months later. Therefore, the Court finds that the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure, sections 1283.6 and 1288 have been satisfied.

Confirmation of the Arbitration Award

An arbitration award is not directly enforceable until it is confirmed by a court and judgment is entered. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1287.6; Jones v. Kvistad (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 836, 840.) The court must confirm the award as made, unless it corrects or vacates the award, or dismisses the proceeding. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1286; Valsan Partners Limited Partnership v. Calcor Space Facility, Inc. (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 809, 818.) Code of Civil Procedure, section 1285.4 states a petition under this chapter shall:

a) 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.

b) 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.

(Code Civ. Proc., § 1285.4.) The Petition complies with the above requirements. It sets forth the nature of the agreement to arbitrate. (Petition to Confirm, ¶4; Graham Decl., Exh. D.) It also sets forth the name of the Arbitrator (Dixon Q. Dern) and attaches a copy of the Award to the Petition. (Petition to Confirm, Graham Decl., Exh. F.) The Petition demonstrates that on January 14, 2019, the arbitrator issued an award requiring Theatrical Media and Fischer to pay Writer [Chadwick Pelletier] $19,190.00, plus finance charges commencing 14 days after the commencement date for each purchase agreement. (Id. at pp. 10-11.) As discussed above, there is no basis to vacate the Award. Accordingly, Writers Guild has complied with the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure, section 1285.4.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, the Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award is GRANTED. Judgment to be entered in conformity therewith. Writers Guild to submit proposed order within ten (10) days.

Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. to give notice.