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Higgins v. Superior Court
California Court of Appeal
45 Cal. Rptr. 3d 293 (2006)
Charles Higgins, 21, became guardian for his minor siblings (plaintiffs) after their parents died, and the family moved in with the Leomatis. The Higginses were chosen to participate in the television program, Extreme Makeover, in which the Leomitis’ home would be renovated. The Higgins and the Leomitis each received a 24-page agreement. The agreement advised the reader not to sign until reading it completely. A miscellaneous section contained an arbitration clause. No special font was used to draw attention to the clause. The clause required only the Higginses to submit to arbitration, barred them from appealing an arbitration decision, and required the parties to split the arbitration costs. Charles Higgins quickly signed the documents. The Leomitis home was reconstructed, and their mortgage was paid off. After the show was broadcast, the Leomitis kicked the Higgins out. The Higgins sued the networks, producers, construction crew, and the Leomitis (defendants) under various theories. The defendants petitioned the court to compel arbitration, which was granted for most of the claims. The Higginses petitioned for a writ of mandate from the California Court of Appeal, arguing that the arbitration clause was unconscionable.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rubin, J.)
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