Court of appeal holds that fees on a motion to compel arbitration can only be awarded if the opposition is groundless

2021 case review: Patterson v. Superior Court

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In Patterson v. Superior Court , a California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) case, the Court of Appeal granted the petition for writ of mandate and directed the trial court to vacate its order awarding attorney fees to defendant Charter. The court held that a fee-shifting clause awarding fees in connection with a motion to compel arbitration risks chilling an employee's access to court in a FEHA case, and that the legislature amended the law to make clear that defendants are not entitled to fees unless the defendant establishes plaintiff's opposition to a motion to compel arbitration was groundless. The Court reversed and remanded, instructing the trial court to consider whether the opposition was groundless, because no such finding was made by the trial court.