Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jerry Roberts Wins On Appeal

Former News-Press editor Jerry Roberts, the beneficiary of a ruling by an arbitrator that the paper's owner, Wendy McCaw, owed him over $900,000 in attorneys' fees and costs has had that award affirmed on appeal.

Framing the issue to be determined in the case as being, "who decides when an arbitration is over," the California State Court of Appeal, concluded that, "The rules governing the arbitration allowed the arbitrator to reopen the hearing and to decide the question concerning the arbitrator's own jurisdiction."

In the eight-page written opinion released on Wednesday, the court noted among other things that under the American Arbitration Association (AAA) rules the arbitrator had the unilateral authority to reopen the hearing and that Ampersand Publishing, the parent company of the News-Press, is estopped from complaining that the arbitrator did not issue a final award by November 15, 2008. By then, AAA had suspended the proceedings due to Ampersand's failure to pay the arbitrator's fees.

As for where the case goes from here, Ampersand and McCaw have no other appeals as a matter of right. They could petition the California Supreme Court to review the decision but that court picks and chooses the cases it wants to hear and the vast majority of petitions for review are turned down. So, Wednesday's ruling from the Court of Appeal could very well be the last chapter in the McCaw vs. Roberts saga.
© 2012 by Craig Smith and