Samaniego v. Empire Today, LLC

140 Cal. Rptr. 3d 492 (2012)

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Samaniego v. Empire Today, LLC

California Court of Appeal
140 Cal. Rptr. 3d 492 (2012)

SC
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Facts

Salome Samaniego (plaintiff) was hired as a carpet installer for Empire Today, LLC (defendant). Empire presented Samaniego with a form contract, or contract of adhesion, which Samaniego was required to sign if he wished to begin work for Empire. The contract was 11 pages, single-spaced, in small font. English was not Samaniego’s first language, and Empire refused to provide a copy of the contract in Spanish. Samaniego signed the contract. The contract contained an arbitration clause, but Empire did not provide Samaniego with a copy of the arbitration rules to which he was agreeing. The contract shortened the statute of limitations for bringing a claim against Empire. The contract also required Samaniego to pay Empire’s attorney’s fees, but with no reciprocal requirement on Empire. Finally, the contract exempted from the arbitration clause a number of claims typically brought by employers, while adding no such exemption for claims typically brought by employees. Samaniego filed a putative class action against Empire, alleging violations of labor laws. Empire filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the contract. The trial court denied Empire’s motion, finding that the contract was unconscionable. Empire appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Siggins, J.)

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