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Gentry Argument Tomorrow

When Should You Petition The Court to Confirm Your Arbitration Award?

It isn't a wage and hour case, but because wage and hour cases often end up in arbitration, the just-published holding in Eternity Investments, Inc. v. Brown could be useful to wage and hour practitioners. Under the California Arbitration Act (Code of Civil Procedure §§ 1280–1294.2), a petition or response seeking to correct or vacate an arbitration award must be brought in the superior court within 100 days after service of a signed copy of the award (C.C.P. § 1288). However, a petition to confirm the award may be brought within four years after service.

In Eternity Investments, Inc., the arbitrator issued an award in favor of the plaintiff. Plaintiff then sat on the award for about four months. During the 100-day period, the defendants did not file any petition or response in the trial court to correct or vacate the award. Three weeks after that period expired, the plaintiff filed a petition to confirm the award. The defendants opposed the award, arguing that the arbitrator's ruling was invalid. The trial court disregarded those points and entered a judgment confirming the award. On appeal, the trial court's order was affirmed.

We conclude that, because defendants did not bring a timely petition or response to correct or vacate the award, the trial court had no choice but to disregard defendants’ challenge and “confirm the award as made.” (§ 1286.) We therefore affirm.

When an employee wins an arbitration, one's first instinct is to rush into court to get the award confirmed so that the employee can collect right away. However, this case illustrates how it might be a better tactic to wait 101 days before doing so, if there is any irregularity in the award that could potentially result in an order vacating or correcting the arbitrator's ruling.

You can download the full text of  Eternity Investments, Inc. v. Brown here in pdf or Word format.

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