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Blanton v. WomanCare Inc.
California Supreme Court
38 Cal. 3d 396 (1985)
Harriette Blanton (plaintiff) alleged injuries from an abortion a medical student performed. Blanton sued the student, supervising doctor, and abortion clinic, WomanCare Inc. (defendants). Attorney Wesley Harris represented Blanton. When Harris discussed arbitration, Blanton agreed to arbitration only if it was nonbinding. Two days before trial, Harris signed a stipulation agreeing to binding arbitration. The stipulation also limited the arbitration award to $15,000 and allowed opposing counsel to unilaterally select an arbitrator who defended medical-malpractice actions. Harris also stipulated to dismiss the supervising doctor with prejudice. Blanton did not learn about the stipulations for nearly three months. She immediately objected, fired Harris, and retained new counsel, who moved to invalidate both stipulations. The trial court upheld the agreement, reasoning it concerned a procedural matter attorneys could unilaterally decide. After the arbitrator ruled against Blanton, the court entered the decision as a judgment. Blanton appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Grodin, J.)
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