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Samaniego v. Empire Today, LLC

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


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

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Siggins, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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