In Ajamian v. CantorCO2e, L.P., the First Appellate District of California affirmed the District Court’s decision to deny Appellant’s motion to compel former employee, Lena Ajamian, to arbitrate employment related disputes. The Court relied on case law that it believed gave the judiciary jurisdiction over the enforceability of arbitral awards. In analyzing the merits of the dispute, the Court revamps doctrinal approaches to unconscionability derived from cases handed down by the Supreme Court of California over a decade ago. This case runs the gauntlet of judicial devices that both warrant and perform judicial intervention at the outset of arbitration. The result is a forty page opinion reasserting the California Courts’ propensity to disrespect the wills of contracting parties seeking to adjudicate outside of the Courts. The decision awards the judiciary vast discretion over subjective questions of unconscionability, mutuality, party intent, and jurisdictional authority. In application, Ajamian is now available to parties looking to get out of binding arbitral clauses, and its presence in California jurisprudence will lead to unpredictable jurisdictional variability long since forbidden by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Anthony Rallo, Weighing (In)Discretion on a Sliding Scale: California Appellate Court Hands Down an Expose of Modern Approaches to Jurisdiction and Unconscionability, 5 Y.B. Arb. & Mediation 315 (2013).