CA Bar Exam Essay Question 2011
CA Bar Exam Essay Question 2011
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California Bar Examination Answer all three questions Time allotted three hours Your answer should demonstrate your ability to analyze the facts in question to tell the difference between material and immaterial facts and to discern the points of law and fact upon which the case turns Your answer should show that you know and understand the pertinent principles and theories of law their qualifications and limitations and their relationships to each other Your answer should evidence your ability to apply law to the given facts and to reason in a logical lawyer like manner from the premises you adopt to a sound conclusion Do not merely show that you remember legal principles Instead try to demonstrate JULY 2011 ESSAY QUESTIONS 1 2 AND 3 your proficiency in using and applying them If your answer contains only a statement of your conclusions you will receive little credit State fully the reasons that support your conclusions and discuss all points thoroughly Your answer should be complete but you should not volunteer information or discuss legal doctrines which are not pertinent to the solution of the problem Unless a question expressly asks you to use California law you should answer according to legal theories and principles of general application Question 1 Vicky operates a successful retail computer sales business out of the garage of her house Vicky told Dan that she intended to go on vacation some days later Dan subsequently informed Eric of Vicky s intended vacation and of his plan to take all of her computers while she was away Eric told Dan that he wanted nothing to do with taking the computers but that Dan could borrow his pickup truck if Dan needed it to carry the computers away While Vicky was scheduled to be away on vacation Dan borrowed Eric s pickup truck Late that night Dan drove the truck over to Vicky s house When he arrived he went into the garage by pushing a partially open side door all the way open Vicky who had returned home early from her vacation was awakened by noise in her garage opened the door connecting the garage to the house and stepped into the garage When she saw Dan loading computers into the back of the truck she stepped between Dan and the truck and yelled Stop thief Dan pushed Vicky out of the way ran to the truck and drove off He immediately went to Fred s house where he told Fred what had happened In exchange for two of the computers Fred allowed Dan to hide the truck behind Fred s house What crimes if any have Dan Eric andor Fred committed Discuss Question 2 Doctor performed surgery on Perry s spine to insert a metal rod designed by Bolton Inc Bolton Shortly after the surgery Perry developed severe back pain at the location where the rod was inserted Within the applicable statute of limitations for a tort action for negligence Perry sued Doctor in federal district court alleging that she was negligent in using Bolton s rod for the kind of back condition from which he suffered Personal jurisdiction subject matterjurisdiction and venue were proper During a deposition Perry s attorney asked Doctor to state whether she had performed any other spine surgeries using Bolton s rods and if so whether any of those surgeries had resulted in complications Doctor s attorney objected to the questions on the ground that the information requested had nothing to do with whether Doctor was negligent as to Perry and Doctor refused to answer After the attorneys properly met and conferred concerning Doctor s refusal Perry s attorney filed a motion to compel Doctor to answer the questions Shortly after the statute of limitations had run Perry learned through a newspaper article that Bolton had been sued by several patients who alleged that they suffered severe back pain after Bolton s rod was inserted into their spines during surgery Perry immediately sought and obtained leave to amend his federal complaint to join and include a claim against Bolton alleging that it had negligently designed the rod Bolton immediately filed a motion to dismiss Perry s claim against it on the ground that the statute of limitations had already run Perry also learned that Doctor had lost a lawsuit brought by another patient with a back condition like his who had also alleged negligence by Doctor for inserting Bolton s rod into his spine Perry filed a motion for summary judgment against Doctor on the basis of preclusion 1 How should the court rule on Perry s motion to compel Doctor to answer Discuss 2 How should the court rule on Bolton s motion to dismiss Perry s claim on the ground that the statute of limitations had run Discuss 3 How should the court rule on Perry s motion for summary judgment Discuss Question 3 Betty is a physician One of her patients was an elderly man named AI Betty treated Al for Alzheimer s disease but since she believed he was destitute she never charged him for her services One day Al said to Betty I want to pay you back for all you have done over the years If you will care for me for the rest of my life I will give you my office building m frightened because I have no heirs and you are the only one who cares for me I need to know now that I can depend on you Betty doubted that Al owned any office building but said nothing in response and just completed her examination of Al and gave him some medication Two years passed Al s health worsened and Betty continued to treat him Betty forgot about Al s statement regarding the office building One day Betty learned that Al was indeed the owner of the office building Betty immediately wrote a note to Al stating I accept your offer and promise to provide you with medical services for the rest of your ife Betty signed the note put it into a stamped envelope addressed to Al and placed the envelope outside her front door to be picked up by her mail carrier when he arrived to deliver the next day s mail Al died in his sleep that night The mail carrier picked up Betty s letter the following morning and it was delivered to Al s home a day later The services rendered by Betty to Al over the last two years were worth several thousand dollars the office building is worth millions of dollars Does Betty have an enforceable contract for the transfer of the office building Discuss IULY 2011 Calzfomia B at Examination Performance Test A INSTRUCTIONS AND FILE IN RE BRENT QUILLEN FILE Memorandum from Allan Zacklerto Transcript oflnterviewwith Brent Memorandum from BarnettGraves to Allan Letterfrom Lance Templarto Brent Promissory 10 13 14 IN RE BRENT QUILLEN INSTRUCTIONS You will have three hours to complete this session of the examination This performance test is designed to evaluate your ability to handle a select number of legal authorities in the context of a factual problem involving a client The problem is set in the fictional State of Columbia one of the United States You will have two sets of materials with which to work a File and a Library The File contains factual materials about your case The first document is a memorandum containing the instructions for the tasks you are to complete The Library contains the legal authorities needed to complete the tasks The case reports may be real modified or written solely for the purpose of this performance test If the cases appear familiar to you do not assume that they are precisely the same as you have read before Read each thoroughly as if it were new to you You should assume that cases were decided in the jurisdictions and on the dates shown In citing cases from the Library you may use abbreviations and omit page citations You should concentrate on the materials provided but you should also bring to bear on the problem your general knowledge of the law What you have learned in law school and elsewhere provides the general background for analyzing the problem the File and Library provide the specific materials with which you must work Although there are no restrictions on how you apportion your time you should probably allocate at least 90 minutes to reading and organizing before you begin preparing your response Your response will be graded on its compliance with instructions and on its content thoroughness and organization PAVLIK GRIEGO amp ZACKLER AttorneysatLaw Interof ce Memorandum Date July 26 2011 To Applicant From Allan Zackler Subject In re Brent Quillen A few years ago our client Brent Quillen cosigned a promissory note at the request of his brother inlaw The note was issued by lnterCon nc a start up high tech company formed by Mr Quillen s brother in law Mark Phillips to a venture capital firm called First Franklin Group First Franklin to secure a line of credit for operating expenses After struggling through a few years of operation nterCon Inc was overtaken by technological advances and the market for its goods collapsed nterCon Inc has filed bankruptcy proceedings and First Franklin has made demand on Mr Quillen to pay the balance due on the note After talking to Mr Quillen and reviewing the documents he furnished I believe he may have a defense that he can assert against First Franklin and possibly some rights against his brother inlaw Mr Quillen is coming in for a followup meeting next Monday and I need to be prepared at that time to advise him of his rights visavis First Franklin and Mark Phillips You will find the questions he wants answered on the last page of the transcript of my interview with him Please draft a memorandum analyzing the issues raised by Mr Quillen s questions For each question be sure to state the likely outcome There is no need for an introductory statement of facts in your memorandum SDOOIOLI1lgtL Jll t H H 11 l 11 U3 11 P 11 U1 11 O 11 11 O0 11 O l O l 11 l l l U l P 0 U1 0 ON 0 l l 00 l O U 3 U3 11 Transcript of Interview with Brent Quillen July 21 2011 Allan Zackler Mr Quillen Brent thanks for coming in ve looked at the letter from First Franklin and the promissory note you sent me after our phone conversation a few days ago Let s talk about the details of what happened and where things stand It sounds like just another example of the truism that no good deed goes unpunished Brent Quillen You ve got that right I cosigned a promissory note as a favor to my sister and her husband Mark Phillips to help them get started on a business venture and now it appears that the chickens have come home to roost Zackler From what little you ve told me so far I don t think it looks all that bleak but let s start at the beginning tell me the facts Quillen Well back in 2002 Mark perfected a patent on a computer device that made network interconnectivity much smoother and he wanted to manufacture and market it He pitched the idea to a number of venture capital groups and ended up getting a commitment from First Franklin Group They agreed to put up 3000000 to get him started Zackler Did First Franklin make an outright loan to Mark Phillips or what Quillen No they insisted that he form a corporation and give them half the stock So Mark formed nterCon nc issued stock and assigned half of it to First Franklin Zackler Who owns the other half of the stock Quillen Mark and his wife my sister Vivian jointly own about one quarter and the rest was issued as stock options to key employees Zackler All right Describe the loan arrangement for me Quillen First Franklin deposited 3000000 in an escrow fund subject to the joint control of First Franklin and nterCon In other words subject to certain controls exercised by First Franklin nterCon Inc was allowed to draw down prescribed amounts to be used for operating expenses The loan was backed up by a 3000000 promissory note Zackler Was itjust 3000000 and no more Quillen It was limited to 3000000 but I suppose that if things had gone well First Franklin might have advanced more SDOOO39LI lPU3l K H H l l l U l P l U1 l O l l 00 l O l O l l l l l U l P 0 U1 0 ON 0 l l 00 l O U 3 U l Zackler I see there s no due date on the note It appears to be a demand note Was it an unsecured note Quillen Yes it is a demand note and no it was secured in two ways As part of the deal InterCon Inc gave First Franklin a security interest in all its equipment and inventory so that if InterCon Inc ever couldn t pay First Franklin could foreclose on its security interest in other words repossess and sell the equipment and inventory Mark says First Franklin perfected its security interest by filing a Commercial Code financing statement with the Secretary of State Zackler OK I ll check to see if and when it was filed You said the note was secured in two ways what s the second way Quillen By my cosigning the note Zackler How did that come about Quillen I got a call from my sister Vivian asking me to please help out Apparently First Franklin told Mark it would make the loan only if he Mark signed it as an individual and if he would get me to cosign I39ve been fairly successful in business and the principals at First Franklin know me and that I have substantial assets They suggested that Mark ask me to cosign so I agreed to do it I figured that First Franklin wouldn t have put up any money if they didn t believe Mark had a good product so I took a chance I know how tough it is to start a business and it was my sister after all asking for help Zackler Did you get any compensation for your agreement to cosign I mean what did you expect to get out of it Quillen Well Mark made some vague statements about me getting some stock if and when InterCon Inc went public but I wasn t holding my breath No I just did it as a favor to Mark and Vivian Zackler I see from the copy of the note that you sent me that you signed on the back Right Quillen That s right Zackler I see that it s signed on the front InterCon Inc by Mark Phillips Chief Executive Officer and then just below that Mark Phillips an individual What s your understanding about why Mark signed the note as an individual SDOOlOLI1lgtL Jli t H H l l l U l P l U1 l O l l 00 l O l O l l l l l U l P 0 U1 0 ON 0 l l 00 l O U 3 U l Quillen That s an interesting question He says he signed it only as a guarantor that I think Mark has talked to a lawyer because he s using language that he wouldn t normally use he would have to pay only if InterCon Inc couldn t pay Zackler What do you mean Quillen He says he wasn t a principal maker He s calling himself an accommodation party and says that he did not get any direct benefit from signing the note I don t know what all that means but it sounds to me as if he s trying to avoid any liability Zackler Well words like principal maker and accommodation party have important meanings under the Commercial Code For example based on what you ve told me so far InterCon Inc is the principal maker because the loan was made to it You re an accommodation party All that means is that you signed the note as a favor to InterCon Inc and your brotherinlaw In relation to you InterCon Inc is an accommodated party You re essentially a guarantor by signing you agreed to pay if InterCon Inc didn t Quillen What s Mark s status Zackler Well I m not sure at this point If he signed as a maker with the intention of being principally liable just like InterCon nc then that s his status It s also possible that he s just like you that is that he signed just as a favor to InterCon Inc in which case he d also be an accommodation party Quillen What difference does that make as far as my liability is concerned Zackler If Mark is principally liable as a maker then you have certain rights of recourse against him If he s an accommodation party like you then a different set of rights kick in I ll spell it out to you after I do some research Quillen OK I ll be anxious to hear what the answer is Zackler Do you know whether Mark or Vivian actually received for their own account any of the money from the 3000000 loan Quillen I don t think so Mark was pretty honest and scrupulous about making sure that all the money went toward the company s operating expenses Maybe he got a benefit indirectly by getting a salary but I don t think he put any of the First Franklin money directly in his own pocket He did tell me and I think it s the truth that he SDOOlOLI1lgtL Jl t H H l l l U l P l U1 l O l l 00 l O l O l l l l l U l P 0 U1 0 ON 0 l l 00 l O U G drew only a small salary from lnterCon Inc during the start up period and that he was looking forward to the day when the company was successful and he could get some real money out of it Zackler The letter First Franklin sent you makes demand on you for 2000000 plus interest The letter refers to a bankruptcy that s why they re demanding payment right Quillen Right lnterCon Inc exhausted the First Franklin line of credit Then in mid 2007 it went out and borrowed another 2000000 from Columbia National Bank lnterCon Inc ran through that money pretty fast and then two months ago filed for bankruptcy That left First Franklin holding the bag so they called the note Zackler Wait a minute slow down What do you mean First Franklin got left holding the bag inventory that they could foreclose on Didn t they have a security interest in lnterCon nc s equipment and Quillen Well I thought they did but it seems that Columbia National Bank beat them to the punch somehow Mark told me that in order to get the loan from the bank lnterCon Inc also had to give the bank a security interest in the equipment and inventory Anyway the bank is the party that repossessed the equipment and whatever inventory was left sold it and applied the proceeds toward its loan Zackler That could be very important If First Franklin somehow impaired the collateral letting Columbia National get it it might be a partial defense for you What was the value of the equipment and inventory at that time Quillen I don t know I think the equipment was valuable but I have no idea about the inventory I m sure it had some value but what put lnterCon Inc out of business was the obsolescence of the product All right Secretary of State s Office and the bankruptcy court records to see what we can find Zackler I39ll have my paralegal check the Commercial Code filings in the out What was the balance due on the First Franklin note at the time lnterCon Inc filed bankruptcy Quillen As far as I know it was the full 3000000 Zackler Then why is Franklin demanding only 2000000 from you SDOOlOLI1lgtL Jl t H H l l l U l P l U1 l O l l 00 l O l O l l l l l U l P Quillen That s because they settled with Mark Phillips Mark told me they accepted 1000000 from him in full satisfaction of his obligation gave him a release and said that they were coming after me for the rest Zackler Can Mark afford to pay 1000000 Quillen There are a couple of sources he can tap My sister has a trust fund left to her by my parents and his parents are fairly well off so I m guessing they will help You know it seems to me that since First Franklin released Mark it ought to be a release against me as well Why should they be able to pick and choose who they want their money from and decide to pick on me Zackler It s definitely something we ll look into Quillen I ll tell you this I don t know if it s possible but ifl have to pay First Franklin I certainly want to go after Mark for reimbursement Zackler I understand completely Anything else you can think of Quillen No not at the moment Zackler OK Let me summarize I need to get back to you on four questions 1 Can you get reimbursement from Mark 2 For that matter can Mark get any recovery from you 3 Does First Franklin s apparent loss of its security interest in the equipment and inventory reduce any obligation you have and if so to what extent And 4 Does First Franklin s release of Mark act as a release of you to any extent Quillen That sounds right All right research Can you come in next Monday at 10 o clock By then I ll have a handle on Zackler Give me a few days to dig up further information and do the what your rights and obligations are and we can talk about them and what to do next Quillen Terrific I ll see you then Thanks PAVLIK GRIEGO amp ZACKLER AttorneysatLaw Interof ce Memorandum Date July 24 2011 To Allan Zackler From Barnett Graves Paralegal Subject In re Brent Quillen Mr Zackler Here s the information you asked me to research I m fairly confident that it s reliable 1 Commercial Code Filinqs For a security interest in a debtor s inventory and equipment to be perfected under the Commercial Code the secured party must file a financing statement describing the collateral sufficiently to give public notice that the collateral is subject to the creditor s security interest The filing must be made in the Secretary of State s Office I searched that office s computerized records of Commercial Code financing statement filings and received a Secretary of State s certification of the following o Financing statement filed by First Franklin Group It is dated March 1 2002 and filed on March 4 2002 It documents a security interest granted to First Franklin Group by lnterCon Inc in a security agreement dated March 1 2002 and describes the collateral as All present and hereafter acquired equipment and inventory of lnterCon lnc o Financing statement filed by Columbia National Bank It is dated June 1 2007 and filed on June 4 2007 It documents a security interest granted to Columbia National Bank by lnterCon Inc in a security agreement dated June 1 2007 and describes the collateral as All present and hereafter acquired equipment and inventory of lnterCon Inc 10 There are no continuation statements or other filings reflecting any other security interest in property of InterCon Inc 2 Search of Bankruptcy Court records in InterCon Inc bankruptcy proceedings You asked me to search the records regarding claims filed by InterCon lnc s creditors in the Bankruptcy Court especially claims filed by First Franklin Group and Columbia National Bank Here is what I discovered First Franklin and Columbia National Bank both filed early claims purporting to be secured creditors each claiming to have a priority claim to nterCon lnc s equipment and inventory o First Franklin s claim was in the amount of 3000000 plus interest subject to reduction after repossession and sale of its collateral and application of the proceeds of the sale to promissory note o Columbia National s claim was in the amount of 2000000 plus interest subject to reduction after repossession and sale of its collateral and application of the proceeds of the sale to promissory note In a hearing before the bankruptcy judge it was determined that Columbia National Bank had priority and that Columbia National Bank was entitled to take possession and sell the collateral The ground of the ruling was that First Franklin s security interest had lapsed Columbia National Bank filed an amended claim as an unsecured creditor after sale of the collateral and application of the proceeds to the amount owed it That claim shows the following o Initial balance of debt 2000000 plus interest o Net proceeds of sale of equipment applied to the balance 800000 o Net proceeds of sale of inventory applied to the balance 400000 o Unsecured remaining balance due 800000 plus interest First Franklin filed an amended claim as an unsecured creditor showing the following 11 o Balance due on promissory note signed by nterCon Inc and Mark Phillips as principals and indorsed by Brent Quillen in the amount of 3000000 plus interest o The claim recited that First Franklin will file a further amended claim after recovery if any on the note from cosigner Mark Phillips and indorser Brent Quillen o An accounting filed by the Bankruptcy Trustee states that It is very doubtful that there will be any appreciable distribution to unsecured creditors after liquidation of the bankrupt estate and payment of costs of administration 3 Use of funds from First Franklin loan You also asked me to see what I could find out about how the First Franklin funds were used and what Mark Phillips s compensation arrangements as CEO of InterCon Inc were The bankruptcy schedules and report of the Bankruptcy Trustee show the following o The only compensation arrangement between nterCon and Phillips was that he was to be paid a salary of 1500 per month and reimbursement for travel and related business expenses o It appears that the only other benefit Phillips received is that the company leased him a mid sized automobile for his personal use All cash advances from both the First Franklin and Columbia National loans were used for operating expenses including payment of salaries and wages of employees except that it appears that Phillips himself drew his salary only in months when there was a positive cash flow o Phillips has filed a claim in the bankruptcy for 18000 in unpaid wages Incidentally I called First Franklin and spoke with Lance Templar its managing partner He confirms that First Franklin and Mark Phillips entered into a release and settlement agreement but he refused to tell me the details Please let me know if there is anything further you want me to do 12 FIRST FRANKLIN GROUP LLP Venture Capital Investors One Success Way May eld Columbia 32459 Telephone 555 4444500 Facsimile 555 4443200 July 11 2011 CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED Mr Brent Quillen 1251 Bellow Lane Mayfield Columbia 32466 Dear Mr Quillen The purpose of this letter is to make a presentment and demand upon you for payment of the balance due on the PROMISSORY NOTE copy attached that you signed as an indorser As you know nterCon Inc is insolvent and is currently in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings nterCon Inc is therefore unable to pay the note We call upon you in your capacity as indorser to pay forthwith the sum of 2000000 plus accumulated interest which is the balance due on the note We will make available to you our accounting records in the event you wish to ascertain the history of advances on the note since its inception in 2002 We look forward to receiving your remittance within the next 30 days We will upon receipt of payment surrender the signed original of the note to you and assign to you all rights we may have against other parties to the note including our claim in the bankruptcy proceedings Very truly yours 4me 5gr24 Lance Templar Managing Partner 13 Copy of Front of Promissory Note FRONT PROMISSORY NOTE Date March 1 2002 Amount 300000000 Maker hereby promises to pay First Franklin Group on demand or to its order the sum of 300000000 or the balance due at the time of demand plus accumulated interest at the rate of 10 per annum Advances up to the face amount of this note shall be made upon request of Maker and upon approval of First Franklin Group and shall be repaid periodically from operating revenues of Maker This promissory note is secured by a security interest granted by Maker in its equipment and inventory Any failure to make a payment on time shall be deemed to be a default and the entire remaining balance shall thereupon be immediately due and payable and shall thereafter bear interest at the rate of 10 per annum until paid In the event it becomes necessary for First Franklin Group or any transferee of this note to take legal action to collect on this promissory note First Franklin or said transferee shall be entitled to recover costs incurred including a reasonable attorney s fee lnterCon Inc By Mark Phillips Chief Executive Officer 7764 79 c39ZZce Mark Phillips an individual 14 Copy of Back of Promissory Note BACK 39z39S zenzf Zct en Guarantor 15 IULY 2011 Calzfomia B at Examination Performance Test A LIBRARY IN RE BRENT QUILLEN LIBRARY Walkeron Negotiable y Excerpts from Columbia Commercial Venaglia v Kropinak Columbia Court ofAppea 2005 Melandris v RiohterCoumbia Supreme Court 2007 13 Walker on Negotiable Instruments by Professor Ervin E Walker University of Columbia School of Law This treatise is intended as an introduction to Article 3 of the Columbia Commercial Code the Code dealing with negotiable instruments Its purpose is to familiarize lawyers with the basics of the Code and to help them navigate the often dense statutory language Promissory notes a A promissory note is an instrument given for value in a commercial transaction to support an obligation to pay money usually connected with the extension of credit by a creditor or a loan by a lender To be negotiable the note must be an unconditional promise to pay a fixed sum of money at a certain time or upon demand c Definitions Signatories Parties to the note Persons or entities on whose creditworthiness a creditor will extend credit or make a loan fall into different categories and incur different rights and obligations depending on the capacity in which they sign the note o Maker or Principal Obligor A maker or principal obligor usually the buyer in a credit transaction or the borrower in a loan transaction is one who signs the note on its face and is primarily liable to pay it according to its terms o lndorser A person or entity who signs the note on the back and who undertakes to pay the note according to its terms if the maker does not o Accommodation Party A signer of the note who does not receive a direct benefit from the extension of credit or the loan but who signs as a favor to the maker The following example may help to illustrate Suppose ABC Corp seeks a loan from Bank to purchase equipment supplies and inventory Bank is willing to make the loan but is not totally confident of ABC s creditworthiness Bank insists that ABC find a responsible creditworthy cosigner or guarantor to become obligated on the note and to pay it if ABC does not Suppose ABC induces a third party to cosign That third party who does not stand to benefit directly from the proceeds of the loan becomes an accommodation party ie he or she signed as an accommodation or as a favor to ABC to help ABC obtain theloan o An accommodation party can sign on the face of the note in which case he or she becomes an accommodation maker or o That person can sign on the back in which case he or she becomes an accommodation indorser o The rights and obligations of an accommodation party differ according to whether he or she signed as a maker or an indorser Those rights and obligations are spelled out in Article 3 of the Code Maker Principal Obligor v Accommodation Maker As already noted the rights and obligations of a signer differ according to whether he or she is a principal maker or an accommodation party It is not always easy to tell the difference Suppose Mr X signed on the face of a note in the space directly under the signature of the corporation to which a loan has been made Mr X can be either a principal obligor or an accommodation maker The key inquiry is whether and to what extent Mr X received a direct benefit from the proceeds of the loan If he did receive a direct benefit he is probably a maker primarily obligated to pay the note If not he is probably an accommodation maker secondarily obligated to pay the note Accommodated Party An accommodated party is the party to whom the credit was extended or the loan was made That party is accommodated in the sense that it was the recipient of the favor done by the third party cosigner or guarantorquot In the example given above ABC Corp is the accommodated party Excerpts from Columbia Commercial Code Section 3415 Obligation of lndorser a If an instrument is dishonored an indorser is obliged to pay the amount due on the instrument according to the terms of the instrument at the time it was indorsed The obligation of the indorser is owed to a person entitled to enforce the instrument or to a subsequent indorser who paid the instrument under this section Section 3419 Instruments Signed for Accommodation a If an instrument is issued for value given for the benefit of a party to the instrument quotaccommodated partyquot and another party to the instrument quotaccommodation partyquot signs the instrument for the purpose of incurring liability on the instrument without being a direct beneficiary of the value given for the instrument the instrument is signed by the accommodation party quotfor accommodationquot b An accommodation party may sign the instrument as maker or indorser and is obliged to pay the instrument in the capacity in which the accommodation party signs The obligation of an accommodation party may be enforced whether or not the accommodation party receives consideration for the accommodation c A person signing an instrument is presumed to be an accommodation party if the signature is an anomalous indorsement or is accompanied by words indicating that the signer is acting as surety or guarantor with respect to the obligation of another party to the instrument e An accommodation party who pays the instrument is entitled to reimbursement from the accommodated party and is entitled to enforce the instrument against the accommodated party An accommodated party who pays the instrument has no right of recourse against and is not entitled to contribution from an accommodation party Section 3604 Discharge by Cancellation or Renunciation a A person entitled to enforce an instrument with or without consideration may discharge the obligation of a party to pay the instrument i by an intentional voluntary act such as surrender of the instrument to the party or ii by agreeing not to sue or otherwise renouncing rights against the party by a signed writing Section 3605 Discharge of lndorsers and Accommodation Parties b Discharge under Section 3604 of the obligation of a party to pay an instrument does not discharge the obligation of an indorser or accommodation party having a right of recourse against the discharged party e If the obligation of a party to pay an instrument is secured by an interest in collateral and a person entitled to enforce the instrument impairs the value of the interest in collateral the obligation of an indorser or accommodation party having a right of recourse against the obligor is discharged to the extent of the impairment The value of an interest in collateral is impaired to the extent 1 the value of the interest is reduced to an amount less than the amount of the right of recourse of the party asserting discharge or 2 the reduction in value of the interest causes an increase in the amount by which the amount of the right of recourse exceeds the value of the interest The burden of proving impairment is on the party asserting discharge g Under subdivision e impairing value of an interest in collateral includes 1 failure to obtain or maintain perfection or recordation of the interest in collateral 2 release of collateral without substitution of collateral of equal value 3 failure to perform a duty to preserve the value of collateral owed to a debtor or surety or other person secondarily liable or 4 failure to comply with applicable law in disposing of collateral Official Comments to Section 3605 Subsection e deals with the discharge of sureties such as accommodation parties by impairment of collateral Subsection g states common examples of what is meant by impairment The surety is discharged to the extent the surety proves that impairment was caused by a person entitled to enforce the instrument For example suppose the payee of a secured note fails to perfect a security interest The collateral is owned by the principal debtor who subsequently files in bankruptcy As a result of the failure to perfect the security interest is not enforceable in the bankruptcy If the payee obtains payment from the surety the surety is subrogated to the payee s security interest in the collateral In this case the value of the security interest is impaired completely because the security interest is unenforceable If the value of the collateral is as much or more than the amount of the note there is a complete discharge Section 9515 Duration and Effectiveness of Financing Statement Effect of Lapsed Financing Statement a A filed financing statement is effective for a period of five years after the date of filing b The effectiveness of a filed financing statement lapses on the expiration of the period of its effectiveness unless before the lapse a continuation statement is filed Upon lapse a financing statement ceases to be effective and any security interest that was perfected by the financing statement becomes unperfected If the security interest becomes unperfected upon lapse it is deemed never to have been perfected as against a purchaser of the collateral for value Venaglia v Kropinak Columbia Court of Appeal 2005 The Appellants Frank Venaglia Ann P Venaglia and Roy J Venaglia the Venaglias sued Roy M Kropinak on his guarantee of a 68000 promissory note issued by Downtown Business Center Inc DBC and payable to the Venaglias Kropinak was an officer and shareholder of DBC The trial court granted Kropinak39s motion for summary judgment The Venaglias appeal asking that we set aside the summary judgment against them This appeal requires us to examine the capacities in which the parties signed the promissory note and their consequential suretyship rights and obligations under the Columbia Commercial Code the CCC1 I BACKGROUND DBC agreed to purchase a downtown commercial property from the Venaglias for 470000 with 90000 due at closing and the balance payable under a real estate contract As part of the transaction DBC gave the Venaglias a promissory note in the amount of 68000 The note was signed Robert J Doucette President of DBC Immediately beneath Doucette39s signature was the inscription quotGUARANTOR individually under which was the signature of Kropinak No collateral secured the note DBC eventually failed to make the promised payments on the balance owed and the Venaglias terminated the contract At the time of termination the balance due was 340000 Shortly aftenlvards the Venaglias and DBC entered into a settlement and mutual release agreement under which DBC relinquished the property to the Venaglias In addition although acknowledging that DBC had equity in the property DBC gave up all rights to recoup any such equity Ron Perea then president of DBC signed the settlement agreement for DBC Kropinak did not sign the settlement agreement 1 Unless othenlvise noted all citations in this opinion are to the Columbia Commercial Code Nine days later the Venaglias sold the property to Suzanne Dutcher for 425000 If DBC had retained the property and sold it for that amount it would have been more than enough to pay off all the principal and interest that DBC owed on the property including the 68000 note that Kropinak had signed as guarantor The Venaglias brought this suit against Kropinak to recover on the 68000 note Kropinak filed a motion for summary judgment The motion for summary judgment focused on the validity of defense raised by Kropinak The district court granted summary judgment to Kropinak ruling that his defense was meritorious We disagree with that ruling Kropinak39s defenses fail as a matter of law He asserts a defense under the Columbia Commercial Code to the effect that he is fully discharged from his guarantee because the Settlement Agreement between the Venaglias and DBC prejudiced his rights as a guarantor The gist of his assertion of prejudice is as follows Although the Settlement Agreement explicitly states that quotDBC acknowledges that it has equity in the Propertyquot DBC relinquished to the Venaglias all its rights in the Property This left DBC with no assets whatsoever Thus if Kropinak were to pay off the Promissory Note in accordance with his guaranty he would not be able to obtain any reimbursement from DBC The unfairness of this result is apparent from the fact that a few days after execution of the Settlement Agreement the Venaglias entered into a contract to sell the Property for a sum that exceeded what DBC owed on the Real Estate Contract and the Promissory Note In other words one could say that DBC39s quotequityquot in the Property prior to the Settlement Agreement the value of the Property less the amount owed on the Real Estate Contract exceeded the amount owed on the Promissory Note Hence if DBC had obtained full value for its interest in the Property it could have paid off the note guaranteed by Kropinak Kropinak contended that pursuant to CCC Section 3605b he was discharged because the Settlement Agreement destroyed his right of recourse against DBC whose only asset was its interest in the property II DISCUSSION The principal source of law governing the rights and duties of the parties with respect to a guarantee of a promissory note is Article 3 of the Columbia Commercial Code To begin our analysis we observe that Kropinak is an accommodation party with respect to the Promissory Note As stated in 3419a If an instrument is issued for value given for the benefit of a party to the instrument quotaccommodated partyquot and another party to the instrument quotaccommodation partyquot signs the instrument for the purpose of incurring liability on the instrument without being a direct beneficiary of the value given for the instrument the instrument is signed by the accommodation party quotfor accommodationquot Section 3419c states in pertinent part A person signing an instrument is presumed to be an accommodation party and there is notice that the instrument is signed for accommodation if the signature is accompanied by words indicating that the signer is acting as surety or guarantor with respect to the obligation of another party to the instrument Kropinak meets the definition of 3419a because it is undisputed that Kropinak signed the Promissory Note as a guarantor that the purpose of the note was to enable DBC the promisor on the note to enter into the Real Estate Contract with the Venaglias and that Kropinak was not a direct beneficiary of the transaction See 3419a Also the presumption of 3419c applies because Kropinak39s signature appears under the heading quotGUARANTOR individuallyquot We now turn to Kropinak39s defense that he was discharged because DBC s settlement deprived him of his right of recourse Kropinak Was Not Discharged Under Section 3605b Section 3605 addresses the discharge of accommodation parties Subsection b states 10 Discharge of the obligation of a party to pay an instrument does not discharge the obligation of an accommodation party having a right of recourse against the discharged party Relying on this language Kropinak argues essentially as follows That he was an accommodation party and as such would have rights of recourse against DBC the discharged accommodated party but he has no effective right of recourse because DBC no longer has any assets its sole asset was an interest in the Property and DBC relinquished that interest to the Venaglias in the Settlement Agreement He argues therefore the discharge of DBC also discharges Kropinak We reject this argument The second premise in the syllogism is flawed Kropinak does have a right of recourse against DBC Kropinak fails to distinguish between a the right of recourse against a party and b the economic value of that right One can have a right of recourse against a destitute person The right may not be worth anything but it exists Here Kropinak has a right of recourse against DBC to the extent that he makes payment on the Promissory Note This right of recourse is explicitly provided by 3419e which states An accommodation party who pays the instrument is entitled to reimbursement from the accommodated party and is entitled to enforce the instrument against the accommodated party Although in some perhaps most contexts a quotworthlessquot right should be treated as no right at all such treatment is inappropriate when dealing with accommodation parties After all the very purpose of procuring an accommodation party is to have a source of payment if the accommodated party is unable to pay in full When the accommodated party cannot pay in full the promisee here the Venaglias should be able to collect everything possible from the accommodated party and then proceed against the accommodation party Collecting from the accommodated party can often be facilitated by the promisee39s release of the accommodated party in return for the accommodated party39s paying what it can In general the accommodation party should have no complaints about such a settlement agreement between the promisee and the 11 accommodated party because it knew that the promisee would look to it if the accommodated party encountered financial difficulty The accommodation party should not be entitled to relief on the ground that the accommodated party has no assets from which the accommodation party can obtain recourse because it is precisely the potential of such financial straits of the accommodated party that created the utility of having the accommodation party guarantee the note As stated in Official Comment 3 to 3605b As a practical matter Bank the promisee will not gratuitously release Borrower the accommodated party Discharge of Borrower normally would be part of a settlement with Borrower if Borrower is insolvent or in financial difficulty If Borrower is unable to pay all creditors it may be prudent for Bank to take partial payment but Borrower will normally insist on a release of the obligation If Bank takes 3000 and releases Borrower from the 10000 debt Accommodation Party is not injured To the extent of the payment Accommodation Party39s obligation to Bank is reduced The release of Borrower by Bank does not affect the right of Accommodation Party to obtain reimbursement from Borrower if Accommodation Party pays Bank Section 3419e Subsection b is designed to allow a creditor to settle with the principal debtor without risk of losing rights against sureties Settlement is in the interest of sureties as well as the creditor In short 3605b is not intended to protect an accommodation party from a settlement in which the promisee discharges the accommodated party in return for paying all that it can on the note The accommodation party should expect to be obligated to pay to the extent that the accommodated party does not have the resources to pay III CONCLUSION We hold that the district court erred in granting Kropinak summary judgment We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion 12 Melandris v Richter Columbia Supreme Court 2007 This suit for declaratory relief reaches us on the cross appeas of parties to a promissory note David Richter was the founder President and Chief Executive Officer of Pharmacopaea lnc a Columbia corporation the Corporation a wholesaler of perishable pharmacological products The Corporation s warehouse was equipped with refrigerated facilities where drugs requiring refrigeration were stored In 1995 the Corporation borrowed 500000 from Merchants and Manufacturers Bank the Bank The documentation consisted of a loan agreement a ten year interest only promissory note and a security agreement granting the Bank a security interest in the Corporation s inventory The Bank duly filed a financing statement with the Columbia Secretary of State to perfect its security interest and later filed a valid continuation statement to preserve its interest The signatures on the face of the promissory note were as follows Pharmacopaea lnc By David Richter Chief Executive Officer and immediately below that signature David Richter On the back of the note appeared the anomalous indorsement of Martina Melandris a representative of one of the Corporation s principal suppliersz In early 2005 as the result of a disastrous loss in a product liability suit stemming from the Corporation s supplying faulty drugs to retailers the Corporation was rendered insolvent and filed bankruptcy The 500000 balance on the promissory note became due and payable and the Corporation s insolvency made it impossible for it to pay the 2 Columbia Commercial Code 3205d defines anomalous indorsement as an indorsement made by a person who is not a holder of the instrument Ordinarily indorsement of a note accompanies negotiation of the note the indorser signs on the back to pass rights in the note from himself as holder to another holdertaker for value An anomalous indorsement is not made for the purpose of negotiating the note but simply for accommodation purposes of creating backup liability It is anomalous in the sense that it is outside the chain of negotiation 13 note The Bank immediately took possession of the Corporation s unsold inventory of drugs then valued at about 300000 The Bank s representatives responsible for preserving the collateral failed to provide adequate refrigerated facilities for the storage of the drugs pending their sale As a result the entire inventory spoiled and became valueless The Bank then made demand upon David Richter and Martina Melandris for payment of the note One of the issues in that litigation which is still pending unresolved is whether and to what extent Richter and Melandris are discharged from any obligation to the Bank by reason of the spoliation of the inventory of drugs Both of them have defended that action by asserting either partial or complete discharge under Columbia Commercial Code the code 3605e and g which provide for discharge of an indorser or accommodation party to the extent of the impairment when the secured creditor who is entitled to enforce the note has failed to perform a duty to preserve the value of the collateral If the Bank in fact failed to protect the repossessed inventory then depending on the capacities in which Richter and Melandris signed the note there will be a discharge to the extent of the impairment The extent of the impairment is not before us but what is before us is the issue of the capacity in which Richter and Melandris signed the note and the consequences that flow therefrom Melandris indisputably signed the note as an accommodation party She asserts that she signed as an accommodation both to the Corporation which was a significant customer and Richter its CEO None of the proceeds of the Bank s loan inured to Melandris s direct benefit In this case she seeks a declaration that i Richter is a non accommodation maker of the note ie that he was an accommodated party and ii that if she is required to pay the Bank she is entitled to full reimbursement from Richter Richter s position is more complicated He seeks a declaration i that he signed the note as an accommodation maker and ii that in any event irrespective of whether it is ultimately determined that he is an accommodation maker or a non accommodation maker he is entitled to contribution ie arecovery ofonehalfof 14 whatever he pays from Melandris for any payment he may be required to make to the Bank Let us first examine Melandris s contentions In support of her position that Richter was an accommodated party and therefore principally liable on the note ie that he was not a surety she points to 3419c which states that A person signing an instrument is presumed to be an accommodation party if the signature is accompanied by words that the signer is acting as a surety or guarantor with respect to the obligation of another party to the instrument By inverse reasoning she argues that since Richter s signature on the face of this note is unaccompanied by such words the presumption works the other way and that he is necessarily an accommodated party principally liable on the note and not a surety She then cites 3419e of the Code which provides that An accommodation party who pays the instrument is entitled to reimbursement from the accommodated party An accommodated party who pays the instrument has no right of recourse against and is not entitled to contribution from an accommodation party Thus if Melandris s position is correct that Richter is an accommodated party and if she pays the note she would be entitled to get full reimbursement from him However we do not believe the solution to Richter s status is as simple as Melandris would have it Her inverse reading of 3419c supra is flawed The presumption that Richter would be an accommodation party if he had signed as a surety or guarantor is not rebutted merely by showing that he did not so sign He can still be an accommodation party even absent such accompanying words Nor is it determinative of Richter s status that he signed the note on the face as a maker Section 3419b provides that An accommodation party may sign the instrument as maker or indorser We now turn to Richter s contentions The initial inquiry into whether Richter is an accommodated party or an accommodation party turns on the statutory definitions 15 Section 3419a provides as follows If an instrument is issued for value given for the benefit of a party to the instrument quotaccommodated partyquot and another party to the instrument quotaccommodation partyquot signs the instrument for the purpose of incurring liability on the instrument without being a direct beneficiary of the value given for the instrument the instrument is signed by the accommodation party for accommodation Richter relies on the italicized language of the foregoing quotation and asserts that he is an accommodation party because he received no direct benefit from the Bank s loan In support of that argument he contends that as one who cosigned a note that was given for a loan to Corporation he is an accommodation party if no part of the loan was paid to him or for his direct benefit This he contends is true even though he might have received an indirect benefit from the loan because he was employed by the corporation We do not believe the matter is so simple Although it is a question of first impression for this court a court in our sister state of Olympia has had an opportunity to address this point In First National Bank v Rafofh the Olympia Supreme Court identified five factors for determining whether one who signed as a maker was or was not an accommodation party i Corporate capacityownership of the signer ii Location of the signature on the note ie on the face where a non surety maker would ordinarily sign or on the back where an anomalous indorser would sign iii The language used in conjunction with the signature iv Whether the signer received the loan proceeds and v Intent of the parties We are persuaded by the Olympia case that the inquiry goes beyond simply whether the signer directly received the loan proceeds and that the result depends on application of the facts to the enumerated factors On the record before us we are unable to make a determination because there is a dearth of facts The parties relied below on purely legal arguments and did not present the surrounding facts to flesh out the arguments sufficiently Of the five factors articulated above the only factors that 16 we are able to answer based on the facts we have are i that Richter was President and CEO of Pharmacopaea lnc ii that he signed on the face of the note as a maker and iii that he signed his name unaccompanied by a modifying adjective The remaining factors iv and v are likely to be the more influential ones and as to those we have no clue Accordingly we cannot resolve this dispute definitively without further evidentiary proceedings below We can however answer to some extent the contentions of the parties as follows As noted Melandris is unquestionably an accommodation party and therefore obligated to the Bank for the balance due on the note whatever that balance might be after offset if any for impairment of collateral The ultimate resolution of the dispute presented to us for declaratory relief will turn on whether Richter is an accommodated party ie a non accommodation maker principally liable on the note or an accommodation party ie a surety If he is an accommodated party and Melandris pays any or all of the note then Melandris as an accommodation party is entitled to full reimbursement from Richter of whatever sum she pays Richter would not be entitled to contribution from Melandris See 3419e supra On the other hand if Richter were ultimately found to be an accommodation party he also would be independently liable to the Bank for balance due on the note In that event Melandris would have no right of recourse neither reimbursement nor contribution against Richter This follows from the fact that under the Code the liability of accommodation parties to an instrument is separate and several not joint and several The Code makes provision for contribution only among parties jointly and severally liable on an instrument but not othenivise Thus if both Melandris and Richter are accommodation parties they are not jointly and severally liable and therefore will not be as between themselves entitled to contribution from one another Of course the Bank would be entitled to recover only once but may pursue one or the other of them at its option We remand to the trial court for further proceedings 17 California Bar Examination Answer all three questions Time allotted three hours Your answer should demonstrate your ability to analyze the facts in question to tell the difference between material and immaterial facts and to discern the points of law and fact upon which the case turns Your answer should show that you know and understand the pertinent principles and theories of law their qualifications and limitations and their relationships to each other Your answer should evidence your ability to apply law to the given facts and to reason in a logical lawyer like manner from the premises you adopt to a sound conclusion Do not merely show that you remember legal principles Instead try to demonstrate JULY 2011 ESSAY QUESTIONS 4 5 AND 6 your proficiency in using and applying them If your answer contains only a statement of your conclusions you will receive little credit State fully the reasons that support your conclusions and discuss all points thoroughly Your answer should be complete but you should not volunteer information or discuss legal doctrines which are not pertinent to the solution of the problem Unless a question expressly asks you to use California law you should answer according to legal theories and principles of general application Question 4 Austin had been a practicing physician before he became a lawyer Although he no longer practices medicine he serves on a local medical association committee that works to further the rights of physicians to be compensated fairly by health insurance providers The committee develops recommendations but its members do not personally engage in public advocacy Austin is a close friend of several of the other physicians on the committee though as a lawyer he has never represented any of them In his law practice Austin represents BHC Company a health insurance provider BHC has been sued in a class action by hundreds of physicians including some of Austin s friends for unreasonable delay and denial and reduction of reimbursements for medical services Austin initially advised BHC that he was not confident it had a defense to the lawsuit After further research however Austin discovered that a stated policy of the health care law is the containment of health care costs He advised BHC that he could plausibly argue that reimbursements to physicians may legally be limited to avoid a dramatic increase in the health insurance premiums of patients He explained that he would argue for a modification of existing decisional law to allow such a result based on public policy When Bertha counsel for the class of physicians heard the defense Austin planned to assert in the lawsuit she wrote him a letter stating that if he presented that defense she would report him to the state bar for engaging in a conflict of interest 1 What if any ethical violations has Austin committed as an attorney Discuss 2 What if any ethical violations has Bertha committed Discuss Answer according to California law and ABA authorities Question 5 Prior to 1975 Andy owned Blackacre in fee simple absolute In 1975 Andy by written deed conveyed Blackacre to Beth and Chris jointly with right of survivorship The deed provides f Blackacre or any portion of Blackacre is transferred to a third party either individually or jointly by Beth or Chris Andy shall have the right to immediately reenter and repossess Backacre In 1976 without the knowledge of Chris Beth conveyed her interest in Blackacre to Frank In 1977 Beth and Frank died in a car accident Frank did not leave a will and his only living relative at the time of his death was his cousin Mona In 1978 Chris and Andy learned that Beth had conveyed her interest in Blackacre to Frank When Mona approached Chris a day later to discuss her interest in Blackacre Chris told her that he was the sole owner of Blackacre and she had no interest in Blackacre Chris posted No Trespassing signs on Blackacre He also paid all of the expenses insurance and taxes on Blackacre Andy and Mona have never taken any action against Chris possession of Blackacre 1 What right title or interest in Blackacre if any did Andy initially convey to Beth Chris and himself Discuss 2 What right title or interest in Blackacre if any are held by Andy Chris and Mona Discuss Question 6 In 2003 Wendy and Hank were engaged to be married They discovered that the 10000 monthly income Wendy derived from a trust fund would terminate upon her marriage or upon her reaching the age of 25 whichever came first Therefore they decided to postpone their wedding until Wendy s 25quot birthday in 2006 and instead began to live together Also in 2003 Wendy and Hank agreed that Wendy would pursue a master s degree in education and that Hank would quit his job and stay home taking care of the household chores Wendy opened a checking account in both of their names into which she deposited her 10000 monthly trust income Wendy used funds in the checking account to pay living expenses for Hank and herself Wendy also used funds in the checking account to buy a new car She put title to the car in both of their names In 2006 Wendy and Hank married Wendy s 10000 monthly trust income terminated Afterwards Wendy began teaching at a local college In 2008 Wendy learned that her compensation was less than that of her male counterparts and made a claim against the college In 2009 Wendy separated from Hank and filed an action for dissolution of marriage Shortly aftenlvards she settled her claim against the college in return for additional salary in the amount of 10000 per year for the next three years Unbeknownst to Wendy Hank had run up a gambling debt to a casino during their marriage At the time of their separation Hank owed the casino 50000 Upon dissolution of marriage what are Wendy s and Hank s rights and liabilities with respect to 1 The car Discuss 2 The 30000 in additional salary under the settlement Discuss 3 The 50000 owed to the casino Discuss Answer according to California law IULY 2011 Calzfomia B at Examination Performance Test B INSTRUCTIONS AND FILE DAVID V SOVEREIGN AUTO STORE INC FILE Memorandum from Martin Sniderto J7 Memorandum Regarding Persuasive Briefs and Memoranda p B h k q Memo to File Notes from Interviewwith Joe 4 Letterfrom Paula Burke to Martin Purchase Agreementfor Used 3 13 15 DAVID V SOVEREIGN AUTO STORE INC INSTRUCTIONS You will have three hours to complete this session of the examination This performance test is designed to evaluate your ability to handle a select number of legal authorities in the context of a factual problem involving a client The problem is set in the fictional State of Columbia one of the United States You will have two sets of materials with which to work a File and a Library The File contains factual materials about your case The first document is a memorandum containing the instructions for the tasks you are to complete The Library contains the legal authorities needed to complete the tasks The case reports may be real modified or written solely for the purpose of this performance test If the cases appear familiar to you do not assume that they are precisely the same as you have read before Read each thoroughly as if it were new to you You should assume that cases were decided in the jurisdictions and on the dates shown In citing cases from the Library you may use abbreviations and omit page citations You should concentrate on the materials provided but you should also bring to bear on the problem your general knowledge of the law What you have learned in law school and elsewhere provides the general background for analyzing the problem the File and Library provide the specific materials with which you must work Although there are no restrictions on how you apportion your time you should probably allocate at least 90 minutes to reading and organizing before you begin preparing your response Your response will be graded on its compliance with instructions and on its content thoroughness and organization The Law Firm of Rogers and Snider 7533 Morningside Drive Shepard Columbia DATE July 28 2011 TO Applicant FROM Martin Snider Partner RE David v Sovereign Auto Store Inc We represent Joe David a ow income client whose case we have taken pro bono in an action against a car dealership that charged him more than twice the retail value of a used car He was unable to afford the payments and the car was repossessed The dealership has not yet taken legal action to collect on the balance of the loan Because the dealership cheated him we filed an action against it After serving the Complaint I got a letter from opposing counsel demanding that we submit the claim to arbitration I find a number of problems with the arbitration clause and want to refuse to arbitrate and to oppose the motion she intends to file Please draft a memorandum of points and authorities opposing counse s expected motion to compel arbitration Follow the firm s guidelines for persuasive memos that is attached The Purchase Agreement contains boilerplate language but we are only concerned here with the arbitration provisions in paragraphs 4 and 5 Don t spend your time now on any other issues I want your help only with the issue of whether the mandatory arbitration clause is enforceable The Law Firm of Rogers and Snider 7533 Morningside Drive Shepard Columbia MEMORANDUM TO Attorneys FROM Martin Snider RE Persuasive Briefs and Memoranda To clarify the expectations of the office and to provide guidance to attorneys all persuasive briefs or memoranda such as memoranda of points and authorities to be filed in court shall conform to the following guidelines All of these documents shall contain a Statement of Facts Select carefully the facts that are pertinent to the legal arguments The facts must be stated briefly cogently and accurately although emphasis is not improper The aim of the Statement of Facts is to persuade the tribunal that the facts support our client s position Following the Statement of Facts the argument should begin This firm follows the practice of writing carefully crafted subject headings that illustrate the arguments they cover The argument heading should succinctly summarize the reasons the tribunal should take the position you are advocating A heading should be a specific application of a rule of law to the facts of the case and not a bare legal or factual conclusion or statement of an abstract principle For example IMPROPER DEFENDANT HAD SUFFICIENT MINIMUM CONTACTS TO ESTABLISH PERSONAL JURISDICTION PROPER A RADIO STATION LOCATED IN THE STATE OF FRANKLIN THAT BROADCASTS INTO THE STATE OF COLUMBIA RECEIVES REVENUE FROM ADVERTISERS LOCATED IN THE STATE OF COLUMBIA AND HOLDS ITS ANNUAL MEETING IN THE STATE OF COLUMBIA HAS SUFFICIENT MINIMUM CONTACTS TO ALLOW COLUMBIA COURTS TO ASSERT PERSONAL JURISDICTION The body of each argument should analyze applicable legal authority and 5 persuasively argue how the facts support our position Authority supportive of our client s position should be emphasized but contrary authority should generally be cited addressed in the argument and explained or distinguished Do not reserve arguments for reply or supplemental briefs Finally there should be a short conclusion stating why our client should prevail Attorneys should not prepare a table of contents a table of cases or the index These will be prepared after the draft is approved Memo to File Notes from interview with Joe David May 30 2011 Client Joe David was referred to us from The State Bar of Columbia Pro Bono Project for consumer debt problem regarding an automobile repossession Client is a 25 yearold single father of three children ages 1 3 and 11 He drives a school bus for the Bryant Board of Education He bought a used car a 2005 Mazda Tribute at Sovereign Auto Store SAS He went to SAS because they advertise heavily on TV about good reliable used cars for low monthly payments He also drives by the dealership while driving to work in the morning His old car was having mechanical problems plus he wanted an SUV In July 2009 his car wouldn t start and he had to get a jump start That day he drove to SAS and was greeted by a saleswoman Ann He said she was very likeable and she asked him what he was looking for He said that he wanted to buy an SUV and that the most he could afford was 200 a month Ann asked if he had a copy of his paystub and he gave her his last two and she said she would check with the credit department She came back about 15 minutes later and told him she had good news She said that he qualified for a loan of 389 a month and that she had a perfect car for him at that price Client remembers repeating that he could only afford 200 but the saleswoman said that they had run the numbers and he could afford more and that he at least ought to look at what that amount of money would buy She led him into the showroom at the back of the building and the Mazda was sitting there clean and shiny He said that he liked everything about it and that he testdrove it with her seated next to him the whole way He told her that he wanted to buy the car He doesn t remember her saying the total price until she brought the papers to him to sign I asked him if he tried to negotiate the price of the car He said that he didn t know that you were supposed to do that He seemed embarrassed by the question and said that he trusted Ann to give him the right price I asked him if he had ever bought a car before and he said that his first car was his uncle s car and that he gave it to him about 7 years ago He traded it in when he bought this car I asked him if he read the contract before signing it and he said that it was full of tiny print so he did not and the saleswoman told him that this was the paper that everyone had to sign to buy a car He thinks they gave him a copy but he left it in the glove compartment of the car and now the car has been repossessed The letter he brought in from the bank that financed the car said that they charged him 19955 for the car Mr David made all of the payments until he could no longer work because his doctor advised him to temporarily stop working due to an unrelated health issue It is unclear how many months Mr David eventually fell behind He attempted to pay his house payment one month and the car payment the next Mr David believes he was only two months behind when he was contacted about his delinquency Mr David then attempted to refinance the car because the payments were too high His credit union informed him that they could not refinance the car because its value was only Si SAS has demanded more than 13000 from him to repay the loan I researched the Kelly Blue Book value for the 2005 Mazda Tribute at the time that Mr David purchased the car it was 9775 I think they really took advantage of him His current finances are as follows Income Monthly take home pay 1725 Expenses Mortgage Payment per month 715 Utilities average 250 Daycare 295 Food varies 200 Transportation 100 Cell phone 55 Total 1615 IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF BRYANT CIVIL DIVISION JOE DAVID Plaintiff v Civil Case No 201112073 SOVEREIGN AUTO STORE NC COMPLAINT Defendant J JJJJJ Plaintiff Joe David respectfully states STATEMENT OF THE CASE Defendant Sovereign Auto Store Inc SAS took advantage of Plaintiff Joe David an unsophisticated consumer by fraudulently selling him a car for more than twice its fair market value PARTIES 1 Plaintiff Joe David resides at 502 Maple Street Bryant Columbia Plaintiff purchased a used car from Defendant SAS 2 Defendant SAS is a Columbia corporation located at 1105 Albemarle Road Bryant Columbia FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS 3 On or about July 28 2009 Plaintiff went to the SAS in Bryant Columbia with the intent to purchase a used car 4 Plaintiff told the SAS salesperson he could only afford a vehicle with payments of 200 per month or less based on his then current income and expenses 5 Plaintiff showed the SAS salesperson his pay stubs demonstrating his current income 6 The SAS salesperson then calculated the total loan amount he was eligible to borrow 7 Based upon Paintiff s desire to purchase an SUV the SAS salesperson showed him a 2005 Mazda Tribute 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 The SAS salesperson knew the actual fair market value of the car but withheld that information from Plaintiff Instead the SAS salesperson told him the price was 389 per month for a total of 1995500 which was at least twice the value of the car In 2005 the base price for a brand new top model 2005 Mazda Tribute was 2302500 Plaintiff an unsophisticated consumer is a high school educated public school bus driver Plaintiff trusted the SAS salesperson and was led to believe that the car was equivalent in value to its purchase price and thus relied on the representation by SAS Plaintiff would not have purchased the car had he known that its value was less than half of the SAS sales price Plaintiff purchased the car sold by SAS a used 2005 Mazda Tribute for the purchase price of 1995500 Plaintiff financed the car through SAS or its agents The terms of the loan required the Plaintiff to pay monthly installments of 389 for 72 months Between September 2009 and July 2010 Plaintiff made regular loan payments in accordance with the aforesaid loan agreement Unable to afford the high monthly payments on his limited income Plaintiff fell behind in one payment for the months of July through November 2010 Plaintiff was unable to make regular payments after November 2010 Defendant repossessed Paintiff s car in December 2010 Defendant allegedly sold the car at auction for 6125 and subsequently demanded payment of 1336895 in a letter dated May 15 2011 As a result of Defendants actions Plaintiff suffered loss of money and diminished credit rating FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION UNLAWFUL TRADE PRACTICES Defendants violated CCPPA unconscionable price and by knowingly taking advantage of Plaintiff s Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act specifically the Unfair Trade Practices Act by charging an 10 20 21 22 23 inability to reasonably protect his interests Specifically Defendants charged an exorbitant price far exceeding the car s retail value Plaintiff suffered damages as a result as iterated in paragraph 18 SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION Defendant committed the common law tort of fraudulent misrepresentation under the law of the State of Columbia Defendant SAS made a false representation to Plaintiff by knowingly withholding the fair market value of the car from Plaintiff and led Plaintiff to believe the price charged was reasonably proportionate to the car s value This was a misrepresentation of a material fact that Defendant knew and intentionally did not disclose Plaintiff relied on the misrepresentation to his detriment suffering injury as a result as iterated in paragraph 18 PRAYER FOR RELIEF WHEREFORE Plaintiff respectfully requests that this Court find Defendant SAS liable for violation of Columbia consumer protection statutes and fraud or misrepresentation Plaintiff requests the following 1 The original sales installment contract for the purchase of the car be deemed as null and void and all remaining alleged debt relating to the car be released The Defendant be required to pay the Plaintiff compensatory damages of 5483 a sum equal to a refund of payments made plus other expenses associated with repair and repossession The Defendant be required to pay Plaintiff treble damages pursuant to the Columbia Consumer Protection Code 4 The Defendant be required to pay court costs 5 The Defendant be required to pay punitive damages 6 That the court grant costs attorney fees and any further relief as it may deem to be necessary and proper 11 Plaintiff demands a trial by jury Dated July 8 2011 JURY TRIAL DEMAND 12 Martin nlder Martin Snider Attorney 7533 Morningside Drive Shepard Columbia Burke and Rice Attorneys at Law 1201 Diego Road Bryant Columbia 5552744141 July 26 2011 Mr Martin Snider Esq The Law Firm of Rogers and Snider 7533 Morningside Drive Shepard Columbia RE David v Sovereign Auto Store lnc Superior Court of Bryant Case No CA 201112073 Dear Mr Snider On behalf of my client Sovereign Auto Store Inc SAS I seek your consent to submit this case to arbitration as required by the contract between the parties If you do not agree it is my intention to file a Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration with the court As you know I am required by court rule to seek your consent prior to filing any motion and thus will inform the court if you do not do so Your client s Complaint arises from his purchase of a 2005 Mazda Tribute from SAS s dealership located here in Bryant The Purchase Agreement contains a mandatory arbitration clause that covers the situation alleged in your Complaint In essence this action involves belated claims by a disgruntled purchaser of a used car Your client concedes that after discussions with the salesperson he voluntarily agreed to purchase the vehicle yet now claims that SAS committed fraud engaged in unlawful trade practices and violated the common law by entering into an unconscionable contract because the negotiated purchase price he agreed to pay for the vehicle was too high and the salesperson quotknew the actual fair market value of the car but withheld that information from him This is precisely the kind of claim that is subject to arbitration under the terms of the contract In case you do not have it I have attached a copy of the Purchase Agreement entered into some two years ago As you will note it is a standard contract that my client uses for every used car sale I call your attention to Paragraph 5 for the terms of 13 the arbitration agreement which is located above your client s signature Paragraph 5 states 5 YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS PURCHASE AGREEMENT CONTAINS AN AGREEMENT TO ARBITRATE DISPUTES AND THAT YOU HAVE READ THE ARBITRATION PROVlSlONAND THAT YOU AGREE TO ITS TERMS I am sure you will agree that this clause is unambiguous In my experience arbitration is an expeditious way of resolving disputes As his share of the costs of arbitration your client will have to pay a 250 filing fee to initiate arbitration and a minimum deposit of 1500 covering two days of proceedings at 750 per day Please let me know within three 3 days whether you will agree to submit this case to arbitration and I will move quickly to propose an arbitrator to you Sincerely PM Ba Kg Paula Burke Attorney at Law 14 Purchase Agreement for Used Car July 28 2009 Date Sovereign Auto Store Inc Joe David 1105 Albemarle Road Purchaser Bryant Columbia 90000 502 Maple Street Tel 5555551701 Address Bryant Columbia 90002 City State Zip Code 555871 2629 Phone numbers Mileage 68333 Please enter my order for the following used vehicle 2005 Mazda Tribute LX 4 DR SUV Tan Serial 4F2CUP18ZHR2566KM52057 Salesperson Ann Anthony Cash Delivered Price of Vehicle 1995500 Used Car Trade In Value 20000 Subtotal 1977500 Sales Tax 118650 Tags and Registration Fee 14500 Total 2108650 1 This purchase agreement Agreement contains the full and final agreement between the parties concerning the purchase of the Vehicle and supersedes and replaces all prior or contemporaneous agreement between the parties 2 If any provision of the Agreement or the application of such provision to any person or circumstance shall be held to be invalid the remainder of this Agreement shall not be affected 3 Warrantv Limitations DEALER HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE 4 Arbitration Terms The parties agree that all disputes claims or controversies arising from or relating to the Purchaser39s purchase of the Vehicle including all Disputes arising under case law statutory law and all other laws shall be resolved by binding arbitration by one arbitrator located in the State of Columbia selected by the Dealer 15 with the consent of the Purchaser The parties agree and understand that they choose arbitration instead of litigation to resolve disputes The parties understand that they have a right or opportunity to litigate disputes through a Court but that they prefer to resolve their disputes through arbitration except that the Dealer may proceed with Court action in the event the Purchaser fails to pay any sums due under the Agreement THE PARTIES VOLUNTARILY AND KNOWINGLY WAIVE ANY RIGHT THEY HAVE TO JURY TRIAL EITHER PURSUANT TO ARBITRATION UNDER THIS CLAUSE OR PURSUANT TO COURT ACTION The parties agree that the cost of arbitration shall be borne equally between the parties provided however that the arbitrator may in the interests of justice order that the losing party pay the prevailing party39s costs A Dispute is any allegation concerning a violation of state or federal statute that may be the subject of binding arbitration any purely monetary claim greater than 100000 in the aggregate Provided however that your failure to provide consideration to be paid by you including your failure to pay a note a dishonored check or failure to provide a trade title as well as our right to retake possession of the vehicle pursuant to this Purchase Agreement shall not be considered a Dispute and shall not be subject to arbitration The parties agree that to the extent damages are awarded they shall be limited to the total amount paid by the Purchaser for the Vehicle plus other provable economic loss as determined in the sole discretion of the arbitrator 5 YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS PURCHASE AGREEMENT CONTAINS AN AGREEMENT TO ARBITRATE DISPUTES AND THAT YOU HAVE READ THE ARBITRATION PROVISION AND YOU AGREE TO ITS TERMS Date July 28 2009 Date July 282009 J06 1gt0lLOI 4 Purchaser Deaer s Representative 16 IULY 2011 Calzfomia B at Examination Performance Test B LIBRARY DAVID V SOVEREIGN AUTO STORE INC LIBRARY Medina etal v Core Healthcare Services Supreme Court of Columbia 2000 3 Fillman v Cornado Homes Inc State of Columbia Court of Appeal 2001 o e 8 Marshall v FermbySupreme Court ofColumbia 12 Selected Provisions of UnfairTrade Practices 16 Selected Provisions ofColumbia Arbitration 18 Medina et al v Core Healthcare Services Supreme Court of Columbia 2000 Mary Medina and Bonita Orate the employees filed a complaint for wrongful termination against their former employer Core Healthcare Services the employer We consider the validity of an agreement imposed on a prospective or current employee as a condition of employment to arbitrate wrongful termination or employment discrimination claims rather than file suit in court We conclude that antidiscrimination claims brought under the Columbia Fair Employment Act CFEA are arbitrable only if the arbitration permits an employee to vindicate his or her statutory rights We also find the mandatory arbitration cause s limitation on damages and its unilateral obligation to arbitrate contrary to public policy unconscionable The trial court refused to enforce the arbitration agreement but the Court of Appeal enforced the agreement minus the provision it found unconscionable We conclude that the arbitration agreement is unenforceable and reverse the Court of Appeal39s judgment Both employees had signed employment application forms including an arbitration clause pertaining to any future claim of wrongful termination The clause states in full I agree that as a condition of my employment in the event my employment is terminated and I contend that such termination was wrongful or otherwise in violation of the conditions of employment or was in violation of any express or implied condition term or covenant of employment whether founded in fact or in law I will submit any such matter to binding arbitration I further agree that in any such arbitration my exclusive remedies for violation of the terms conditions or covenants of employment shall be limited to a sum equal to the wages I would have earned from the date of any discharge until the date of the arbitration award I understand that I shall not be entitled to any other remedy at law or in equity including but not limited to reinstatement andor injunctive reliefquot The Columbia Arbitration Act CAA like federal law favors enforcement of valid arbitration agreements including agreements to arbitrate statutory rights Arbitration agreements are valid irrevocable and enforceable and may be invalidated only for the same reasons as other contracts The CAA contains no exemption for employment contracts The inquiry under the CAA is Do general contract law principles provide reasons for refusing to enforce the present arbitration agreement The answer turns on whether and to what extent the arbitration agreement is contrary to public policy or unconscionable Arbitration of CFEA Claims Litigants in arbitrating a statutory claim do not forgo the substantive rights afforded by the statute but only submit them to resolution through arbitration thus arbitration agreements and practices that compel claimants to forfeit certain statutory rights are unenforceable While some statutory rights can be waived arbitration agreements that encompass unwaivable statutory rights require great scrutiny based on two principles of public policy First contracts exempting anyone from responsibility for fraud or willful injury to another or from violation of law are against public policy and may not be enforced Second anyone may waive the advantage of a law intended solely for his benefit but a law established for a public reason cannot be contravened by a private agreement The statutory rights of the CFEA serve important public purposes safeguarding the right and opportunity of all persons to seek obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgement on account of race religious creed color national origin ancestry physical handicap medical condition sexual orientation marital status sex or age The public policy against sex discrimination and sexual harassment in employment inures to the benefit of the public not just a particular employer or employee An employment contract that requires employees to waive their rights under the CFEA to redress sexual harassment or discrimination is contrary to public policy and unlawful An arbitration agreement cannot serve as a vehicle for the waiver of statutory rights created by the CFEA In determining whether arbitration is an adequate forum for securing rights under CFEA we note the differences involved in arbitrating employees statutory rights and disputes arising from collective bargaining agreements The fundamental distinction between contractual rights which are created defined and subject to modification by the parties and statutory rights which are created defined and subject to modification only by the legislature and the courts suggests the need for a public rather than private mechanism of enforcement The beneficiaries of public statutes are entitled to the rights and protections provided by the law We identify three minimum requirements for the arbitration of such rights pursuant to a mandatory employment arbitration agreement It must provide for 1 neutral arbitrators 2 all types of relief available in court and 3 it must not require employees to pay arbitrator s fees or expenses that make a forum inaccessible The only issue in this case is the limitation on remedies Limitation of Remedies An arbitration agreement may not limit statutorily imposed remedies such as punitive damages and attorney fees This arbitration agreement imposes exclusive remedies limited to wages earned from the discharge date until the date of the arbitration award The agreement compels arbitration of statutory claims without affording the full range of statutory remedies including punitive damages and attorney fees This damages limitation is contrary to public policy and unlawful Unconscionability of the Arbitration Agreement 1 General Principles of Unconscionability We now consider objections to mandatory arbitration that apply to any type of claim These objections fall under the rubric of unconscionability Unconscionability has both procedural and substantive elements the former focusing on oppression or surprise due to unequal bargaining power the latter on overly harsh or onesided results For a court to refuse to enforce a contract or clause both procedural and substantive unconscionability must be present but not in the same degree The more substantively oppressive the contract term the less evidence of procedural unconscionability is required and vice versa Because unconscionability applies to contracts generally a court can refuse to enforce an arbitration agreement under the CAA which provides that arbitration agreements are quotvalid enforceable and irrevocable save upon such grounds as exist for the revocation of any contractquot 2 Unconscionability and Mandatory Employment Arbitration We find that this arbitration agreement is procedurally unconscionable It was imposed as a condition of employment and the employees had no opportunity to negotiate Arbitration is favored in Columbia as a voluntary means of resolving disputes and this voluntariness is its bedrock justification Given the lack of choice and the disadvantages of even a fair arbitration system for employees we are particularly vigilant when employers with superior bargaining power impose onesided substantively unconscionable terms in the arbitration clause The agreement is also substantively unconscionable because it requires only employees but not the employer to arbitrate claims The party required to submit claims to arbitration forgoes many rights and benefits associated with a judicial forum while the party requiring waiver retains all the benefits and protections The unilateral obligation is so one sided as to be substantively unconscionable 3 Severability of Unconscionable Provisions When a court finds unconscionability it may refuse to enforce the contract or enforce the remainder of the contract without the unconscionable clause or it may limit the application of any unconscionable clause to avoid an unconscionable result The former course is appropriate when an agreement is permeated by unconscionability Two reasons favor severing or restricting unconscionable terms The first is to prevent parties from gaining undeserved benefit or suffering undeserved detriment from voiding the agreement Second severance attempts to conserve a contractual relationship if to do so does not condone an illegal scheme The overarching inquiry is whether severance furthers the interests of justice In this case two factors weigh against severance of the unlawful provisions in the arbitration agreement First the arbitration agreement contains more than one unlawful provision an unlawful damages provision and an unconscionable unilateral arbitration clause Multiple defects indicate a systematic effort to impose arbitration not as an alternative to litigation but to gain advantage Second permeation appears from the fact that there is no single provision a court can strike or restrict to remove the unconscionable taint from the arbitration agreement The court would have to reform the contract by 6 substituting terms When a court is unable to cure unconscionability through severance or restriction voiding the arbitration agreement may serve the interests of justice Here the various provisions that are unconscionable and contrary to public policy make the mandatory arbitration agreement unenforceable as a whole The approach described above is consistent with our case of Marshall v Fermby 1981 Col Sup Ct in which we found an arbitration agreement unconscionable because it provided for an arbitrator likely to be biased in favor of the party imposing the agreement Relying on the methods for appointing an arbitrator provided in the CAA when the arbitration agreement does not provide a method for appointing an arbitrator the court remanded and instructed the trial court to follow the procedures of the CAA Thus an arbitration clause providing for a lessthan neutra arbitration forum is severable because the arbitration statute itself gave the court the power to reform the agreement No comparable provision in the arbitration statute enables the court to reform the defects here Reversed and remanded to the Court of Appeal with directions to affirm the judgment of the trial court Fillman v Cornado Homes Inc State of Columbia Court of Appeal 2001 Heidi Fillman Fillman proceeding in forma pauperis brings this action against Cornado Homes Inc Cornado for damages arising out of Fillman39s purchase of a manufactured home under a retail installment contract Fillman alleges violations of the Truth in Lending Act TILA Columbia s Uniform Commercial Code and common law trespass Cornado filed a motion to compel arbitration Finding that the contract39s arbitration clause precludes Fillman from vindicating her statutory rights under the TILA because the arbitral forum is financially inaccessible the court denies Cornado39s motion Fillman executed a retail installment contract effective March 31 2000 with Cornado for the installment purchase of a manufactured home for herself and her three young children The contract was a pre printed form provided by Cornado and contained an arbitration clause that provides in pertinent part as follows ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES AND WAIVER OF JURY TRIAL Any controversy or claim between you and me or our assignees arising out of or relating to the contract or any agreements or instruments relating to or delivered in connection with this contract including any claim based on or arising from an alleged tort shall if requested by either you or me be determined by arbitration YOU AND I AGREE AND UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE GIVING UP THE RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY THERE SHALL BE NO JURY AND THE CONTROVERSY OR CLAIM WILL BE DECIDED BY ARBITRATION The arbitration clause does not mention the costs of arbitration or which party is responsible for paying them However the contract provides that quotthe Commercial Rules of the American Arbitration Association applyquot to any arbitration arising from the contract Fillman brought this suit on March 28 2001 On the same day the court granted Fillman39s application to proceed in forma pauperis thereby exempting her from the court39s 150 filing fee On May 25 2001 Cornado moved to compel arbitration which Fillman opposed arguing in part that the arbitration provision interferes with vindication 8 of her statutory rights under the TILA and is unconscionable because the fees associated with the arbitration prohibit her access to the arbitral forum The parties stipulate to the following facts According to the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association AAA a party initiating a claim the size of Fillman39s between 75000 and 150000 must pay an initial filing fee of 1250 and after a scheduling conference a case fee of 750 If the initiating party ultimately prevails the arbitrator may award those fees to her in the final disposition of the case The initiating party may apply for a waiver reduction or deferral complete or partial of these fees due to extreme hardship The AAA39s accounting department determines which claimants receive extreme hardship status No formal standards govern the accounting department39s determination In practice the complete waiver of a fee is extremely rare partial deferral is the usual response The arbitrator may assess the losing party the deferred fee as part of the final award After a party initiates a claim with the AAA the parties may not proceed until they pay the arbitrator39s fee and expenses Each party is responsible for half those costs The arbitrator selected by the parties sets the arbitration fee which typically ranges between 100 and 300 per hour for a minimum of one full day for hearings plus the arbitrator39s additional preparation and research time before and after the hearing Arbitrators customarily charge their hourly rate for travel time Thus the arbitration will not proceed until both parties pay their half of the arbitrator39s fees Fillman suggests that the total amount of an arbitrator39s fees will likely range between 1200 assuming 100 hourly fees for one hearing plus time for preparation and resolution without travel or other expenses and 8000 assuming 300 hourly fees for 24 hours of hearings preparation resolution and travel plus accommodation expenses On July 26 2001 Fillman filed a declaration of her financial condition stating that she provides sole support for herself and her three children Though entitled to child support amounting to 600 per year she rarely is able to collect payments Fillman works as a waitress at a local restaurant where she earns an average weekly income including tips of 300 and attends Community College part time She owes 14125 in old student loans which have been deferred until she finishes school Due to her limited income her family shares a house with another family Her share of those expenses consists of the following monthly amounts electricity including heat and well pump 6075 telephone 20 food 430 She is solely responsible for the following monthly expenses daughter39s drug prescriptions 40 car payments 260 car insurance 128 gasoline 100 and occasional expenses for clothes and other needs She expects to spend about 300 for back to school clothes and supplies for her young children for whom she shops at thrift stores Fillman cannot afford health insurance and she currently owes Community Hospital 445 Fillman declares that she cannot afford to pay costs associated with the adjudication of her dispute To decide whether statutory claims may be arbitrated a court must resolve a threshold issue The court must determine whether the parties agreed to submit their claims to arbitration The court finds that the parties agreed to arbitrate the claims Fillman voluntarily signed the contract She alleges that Cornado did not provide her an opportunity to read the contract before signing it The failure to provide such an opportunity is of no consequence A party to a written contract is responsible for informing herself of its contents before executing it and in the absence of fraud or overreaching she cannot impeach the effect of the instrument by showing that she was ignorant of its contents or failed to read it However in Medina the Supreme Court held that a mandatory arbitration agreement may not require employees to pay arbitrators fees or expenses that make the forum inaccessible Therefore the court must determine whether Fillman has demonstrated that the arbitration clause at issue prevents her from vindicating her rights under the TILA because the costs of arbitration make that forum inaccessible The court finds that Fillman has adequately demonstrated that the arbitral forum provided for in the contract is financially inaccessible to her and therefore fails to ensure that she can vindicate her statutory rights under the TILA Here Fillman has presented substantial evidence that the costs of arbitrating her claims would preclude her from vindicating her statutory rights The arbitration clause does not indicate directly which party will be responsible for the costs of initiating arbitration Under the Commercial Rules of the AAA Fillman 10 must pay an initial filing fee of 1250 and a 750 case fee shortly thereafter Fillman could not recover those fees unless she ultimately prevailed on her claim Even if she prevailed Fillman does not have 2000 to pay the fees in the first place and she has no collateral with which to obtain a sufficient loan Though Fillman may apply for fee deferral or reduction due to quotextreme hardshipquot waiver of fees is extremely rare The AAA does not provide standards for granting hardship an issue determined by its accounting department Even if the initial 2000 in administrative fees were waived or deferred Fillman has demonstrated that the additional costs of the arbitration process amount to an insurmountable financial barrier To proceed Fillman would be responsible for paying onehalf of the anticipated fee and expenses of the arbitrator stated above These fees are not subject to waiver or deferral for extreme hardship In acknowledgment of Fiman39s strained financial condition this court found her unable to pay the 150 filing fee normally required to initiate the claim it now considers In view of these facts the court finds that Fillman39s limited income affords no margin for expenses of the magnitude required to pay an arbitrator to consider her claim Fillman has demonstrated that the arbitration clause precludes her from vindicating the rights afforded by the TILA because the arbitral forum is financially inaccessible The court concludes that the arbitration clause is unenforceable and denies Cornado39s motion 11 Marshall v Fermby Supreme Court of Columbia 1981 Bill Marshall appeals from a judgment confirming an award by an arbitrator We reverse and direct the trial court to vacate its order compelling arbitration Marshall is an experienced promoter and producer of musical concerts Leon Fermby is a successful performer and recording artist He is also a member of the American Federation of Musicians AFM Early in 1973 Fermby requested Marshall who had promoted a number of Fermby concerts to structure a tour Four contracts were prepared Marshall signed all four contracts Fermby signed only those relating to the Windsor and Beachland concerts which were to occur on July 29 and August 5 1973 The four contracts were all prepared on an identical form known in the industry as an AFM form B contract Aside from matters such as date and time they differed from one another in only two areas the hours of employment and wage The latter provided payment of 85 percent of the gross receipts after expenses and taxes The contracts did not state who would bear any eventual net losses The forms also provided 3939In accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the AFM the parties will submit every claim dispute or controversy involving the musical services arising out of or connected with this contract and the engagement covered thereby for determination by the International Executive Board of the AFM or a similar board of an appropriate local thereof and such determination shall be conclusive final and binding upon the parties The Windsor concert occurred as scheduled and had gross receipts of 173000 with expenses of 236000 resulting in a net loss of 63000 The Beachland concert resulted in a net profit of 98000 Following this concert a dispute arose over who was to bear the loss sustained in the Windsor concert and whether that loss could be offset against the profits of the Beachland concert Fermby said that under the contract Marshall was to bear all losses from any concert without offset Marshall urged that under standard industry practice and custom relating to 8515 contracts such losses 12 should accrue to Fermby without offset With this dispute unresolved Fermby declined to execute the contracts for the Long Island and Philadelphia concerts In October 1973 Marshall filed an action for breach of contract declaratory relief and rescission against Fermby Fermby responded with a petition to compel arbitration After ordering arbitration the trial court granted reconsideration to permit discovery limited to the issues of whether an agreement to arbitrate was entered into and whether grounds existed to rescind such agreement Following discovery including depositions the court granted the petition and ordered arbitration On October 29 1976 a hearing was held at the union39s western office before a referee appointed by the union president The referee was a former executive officer and a longtime member of the union who had been a hearing officer in previous union matters Marshall produced considerable evidence that under common custom and practice in the industry the promoter under an 8515 contract was understood to bear no risk of loss because his share of the profits was considerably smaller than under the normal contract under which the promoter takes a larger percentage of the profits but is understood to bear the risk of loss Fermby offered no contrary evidence In his report to the union39s international executive board the referee recommended that Marshall be ordered to pay Fermby the amount he claimed some 53000 at the arbitration On February 22 1977 the union39s international executive board made its award in conformity with the recommendation of the referee The superior court denied Marshall39s petition to vacate the award Marshall appeals Marshall contends that the order was in error because insofar as the underlying agreement required arbitration of disputes before the AFM it was unenforceable because of unconscionability Two separate questions are thus presented 1 Is this procedurally unconscionable 2 Is it substantively unconscionable 1 The court shall decide whether an agreement to arbitrate exists or a controversy is subject to an agreement to arbitrate Col Arbitration Act 2b 13 Procedural unconscionability signifies a standard contract which when imposed and drafted by the party of superior bargaining strength relegates to the subscribing party only the opportunity to adhere to or reject the contract While not lacking in social advantages they bear the danger of oppression and overreaching With this tension between social advantage and the danger of oppression courts and legislatures have sometimes acted to prevent abuses The contract in question in light of all of the circumstances is procedurally unconscionable Although Fermby insists that Marshall39s prominence and success in the promotion of popular music concerts afforded him considerable bargaining strength the record establishes that he for all his stature in the industry was reduced to the humble role of adherent Marshall whatever his asserted prominence in the industry was required by the realities of his business to sign AFM form contracts with any concert artist and that he wishing to promote the Fermby concerts had the nonnegotiable option to accept the contracts on an 8515 basis or not at all The Columbia Arbitration Act seems to contemplate complete contractual autonomy in the choice of an arbitrator The Columbia Arbitration Act CAA 29a provides that if the parties to an agreement to arbitrate agree on a method for appointing an arbitrator that method shall be followed unless the method failsquot The CAA does not preclude parties from designating as arbitrator an entity or person who by reason of relationship to a party can be expected not to adopt a quotneutralquot stance However when as here the contract is adhesive the possibility of overreaching looms large we scrutinize contracts concluded in such circumstances to insure that the party of lesser bargaining power has a realistic and fair opportunity to prevail Contracts must operate within a minimum level of integrity Courts must determine on a case by case basis this minimum level of integrity Arbitration requires a tribunal an entity or body that hears and decides disputes An entity that is incapable of deciding based on what it has heard cannot act as a tribunal one of the principal parties to the contract does not qualify The contract we here consider insofar as it requires the arbitration of all disputes before the AFM is substantively unconscionable The minimum level of integrity 14 required for a contractual arrangement for the nonjudicial resolution of disputes is not achieved when the agreement designates the union of one of the parties as the arbitrator of disputes A contract provision designating a contractual party to serve as arbitrator is substantively unconscionable The same result follows and for the same reasons when one whose interests are so allied with those of the party that for all practical purposes he is subject to the same disabilities A contract is substantively unconscionable if it is overly harsh and onesided We conclude that a contract provision designating the union of one of the parties as the arbitrator of disputes arising thereunder does not achieve the minimum level of integrity required of a contractually structured substitute for judicial proceedings However in light of the strong public policy of this state favoring resolving disputes by arbitration the parties should not be precluded from using nonjudicial means of settling their differences The parties have agreed to arbitrate but have named as arbitrator an entity that we cannot permit to serve in that capacity In these circumstances the parties should not be precluded from attempting to agree on an arbitrator Upon remand the trial court should afford the parties the opportunity to agree on a suitable arbitrator pursuant to 29a In the absence of an agreement or petition to appoint the court should proceed to a judicial determination We reverse and remand 15 Unfair Trade Practices Act Columbia Consumer Protection Code 1 Purposes a The purposes of this chapter are to 1 assure that a just mechanism exists to remedy all impropertrade practices and deter the continuing use of such practices 2 promote through effective enforcement fair business practices throughout the community and 3 educate consumers to demand high standards and seek proper redress of gnevances b This chapter shall be construed and applied liberally to promote its purposes 4 Unlawful trade practices It shall be a violation of this chapter whether or not any consumer is in fact misled deceived or damaged thereby for any person to a misrepresent as to a material fact that has a tendency to mislead b fail to state a material fact if such failure tends to mislead c make or enforce unconscionable terms or provisions of sales or leases 7 Remedies a The remedies provided in this section may not be waived bA person whether acting for the interests of itself its members or the general public may bring an action under this chapter in the Superior Court of the State of Columbia seeking relief from the use by any person of a trade practice in violation of a law of Columbia c A person may recover or obtain the following remedies 1 treble damages or 1500 per violation whichever is greater payable to the consumer 2 reasonable attorney39s fees 16 3 punitive damages 4 an injunction against the use of the unlawful trade practice 5 in representative actions additional relief as may be necessary to restore to the consumer money or property real or personal which may have been acquired by means of the unlawful trade practice or 6 any other relief which the court deems proper 17 Columbia Arbitration Act 26 Validity of agreement to arbitrate a An agreement contained in a record to submit to arbitration any existing or subsequent controversy arising between the parties to the agreement is valid enforceable and irrevocable except upon a ground that exists at law or in equity for the revocation of a contract b The court shall decide whether an agreement to arbitrate exists or a controversy is subject to an agreement to arbitrate 28 Motion to compel or stay arbitration a On motion of a person showing an agreement to arbitrate and alleging another person39s refusal to arbitrate pursuant to the agreement 2 If the refusing party opposes the motion the court shall proceed summarily to decide the issue and order the parties to arbitrate unless it finds that there is no enforceable agreement to arbitrate 29 Appointment of arbitrator service as a neutral arbitrator a If the parties to an agreement to arbitrate agree on a method for appointing an arbitrator that method shall be followed unless the method fails If the parties have not agreed on a method the agreed method fails or an arbitrator appointed fails or is unable to act and a successor has not been appointed the court on motion of a party to the arbitration proceeding shall appoint the arbitrator An arbitrator so appointed has all the powers of an arbitrator designated in the agreement to arbitrate or appointed pursuant to the agreed method 18
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