Northern California Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Appellate court upholds dismissal of suit filed to vacate Instacart shopper's arbitration ruling


By Gabriel Neves | Aug 28, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – A court of appeals has affirmed a decision that dismissed a case that disputed an arbitration ruling of an Instacart shopper and delivery driver.

Associate Justice Marla Miller, on the bench of 1st District Court of Appeal, Division Two issued a 16-page ruling on Aug. 21 reaffirming the San Francisco County Superior Court's decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Maplebear Inc. against Donna Busick.

Busick was a former worker of Maplebear, a grocery delivery service that operates under the name Instacart, having worked there as a shopper and a delivery driver at one of the company's locations in Massachusetts.

As stated in the ruling, Busick "filed a class action arbitration demand on behalf of herself and similarly situated Massachusetts shoppers and drivers claiming that Instacart violated California law by classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees."

Prior to the dispute, Busick and Maplebear (Instacart) signed and independent contractor agreement, which stated that "disputes between them would be submitted to binding arbitration," with California laws being applied for "any action to review the arbitration award for legal error or to have it confirmed, corrected or vacated,” the ruling states.

Busick filed a class arbitration demand and the arbitrator of the case issued a partial final award, which determined "only that [Busick] may move for class certification as part of the mandated arbitration," and that "it does not address the appropriateness of such certification, nor the underlying claim that [Instacart] misclassified claimant and others similarly situated,” the ruling states.

Maplebear filed a petition to the Superior Court to vacate the award, claiming "the arbitrator made legal errors in concluding that the agreement authorizes class arbitration, and therefore exceeded her authority," and the petition was "necessary to remedy the arbitrator’s errors," the ruling states.

The Superior Court dismissed the suit, citing that it had no jurisdiction under the California Arbitration Act to review it.

Citing the section 1283.4 of the California Arbitration Act, which defines award as “a determination of all the questions submitted to the arbitrators the decision of which is necessary in order to determine the controversy,” Miller stated that the decision was not an award.

"Parties to an arbitration agreement cannot confer jurisdiction on courts to review arbitrator’s rulings by agreeing to proceed under a private organization’s rules that purport to allow immediate review of some interim awards," Miller said.

California 1st District Court of Appeal, Division Two case number A151677

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