Motion to Compel Arbitration (Judge John Y. Lee)

Defendant Essex Property Trust, Inc.’s has filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay Action.

The Court OVERRULES defendant Essex Property Trust’s objections to the Declaration of plaintiff Hall and the Amended Declaration of Plaintiff Hall.

The Mutual Arbitration Agreement expressly states that it “shall be governed by the FAA (9 U.S.C. § 1 et. seq. Plaintiff has not disputed that the FAA governs the contractual arbitration. The FAA provides that a “written provision in any . . . contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or transaction, the refusal to perform the whole or any part thereof . . . shall be valid, irrevocable and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” (9 U.S.C. § 2.) “The ‘principal purpose’ of the FAA is to ‘ensur[e] that private arbitration agreements are enforced according to their terms.’” (Lacayo v. Catalina Restaurant Group Inc. (2019) 38 Cal.App.5th 244, 257.) The party seeking to compel arbitration “has the burden of proving the existence of a valid agreement to arbitrate.” “Once that burden is satisfied, the party opposing arbitration must prove by a preponderance of the evidence any defense to the petition.” (Ibid.)

There is no dispute that plaintiff signed a Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate.  The dispute is whether she subsequently opted out of the Agreement, as she was permitted to do by its Section 12. Defendant has made a prima facie showing that there was no opt-out.  Plaintiff has not refuted or rebutted defendant’s showing.

The finding that a written agreement between the parties exists is not the end of the matter, however.  Plaintiff contends that the contract is unenforceable because it is unconscionable. The Court concludes that, at most, the failure to provide the JAMS arbitration rules, rather than cite to their location on the internet, establishes, at the most, moderate procedural unconscionability.

Plaintiff has not identified any substantive unconscionability in the Agreement.  She has failed to meet her burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the agreement is both procedurally and substantively unconscionable, as she must.  [Armendariz v.  Foundation Health Psychcare Services, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 83, 114]

Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED.

This action is stayed pending arbitration under CCP §1281.4.

The Case Management Conference is vacated.  The Court sets an ADR Review Hearing for March 21, 2024 at 1:30 p.m.

Moving party to give notice.