Saheli v. White Memorial Medical Center

Filed 3/14/18 CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT DIVISION EIGHT GEZEL SAHELI, B283217 Plaintiff and Respondent, (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC651265) v. WHITE MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER et al., Defendants and Appellants. APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Randolph M. Hammock, Judge. Reversed. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Jeffrey A. Berman, Joan E. Smiles, Dana Peterson, and Kiran A. Seldon for Defendants and Appellants. Fred J. Hiestand, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants. Fenton Law Group, LLP, Nicholas D. Jurkowitz and Alexandra de Rivera for Plaintiff and Respondent. _____________________________ White Memorial Medical Center (White Memorial) and Juan Barrio, M.D. (together, Defendants) challenge the denial in part of their petition to compel arbitration of claims brought against them by Gezel Saheli, M.D. Although the trial court ordered Saheli to arbitrate the majority of her claims, it refused to compel arbitration of her claims brought pursuant to Civil Code sections 51.7 (Ralph Act) and 52.1 (Bane Act).1 The court reasoned that the parties’ arbitration agreement failed to comply with special requirements for agreements to arbitrate such claims. Specifically, sections 51.7 and 52.1 prohibit the enforcement of agreements to arbitrate Ralph Act and Bane Act claims that are made as a condition of certain contracts or of providing or receiving goods or services. They also mandate that the party seeking to enforce an agreement to arbitrate such claims prove the other party knowingly and voluntarily agreed to arbitration. Defendants contend (1) the trial court erred in its interpretation of the parties’ arbitration agreement and (2) the Ralph Act’s and Bane Act’s special requirements for arbitration agreements are preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). We agree and reverse the trial court’s order denying Defendants’ petition to compel arbitration of Saheli’s Ralph Act and Bane Act claims. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND Complaint Saheli filed her initial complaint against Defendants on February 21, 2017. In the operative First Amended Complaint, Saheli alleges she is a native of Iran and completed medical training at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. After 1 All further section references are to the Civil Code unless otherwise specified. 2 immigrating to the United States, she enrolled in a medical residency program at White Memorial. In July 2016, Saheli discovered and reported to White Memorial violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by physicians who were sending confidential protected health information by unsecured and unauthorized means. Over the next few months, she also reported unsafe patient care and conditions. In September 2016, Saheli reported the violations to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Saheli alleges that, in response to such reports, Barrio commenced a “campaign of retaliation, harassment, and intimidation” against her, which included yelling at her and threatening to terminate her. According to Saheli, a substantial motivating factor for the yelling was the fact that she is female. In addition, Saheli alleges Barrio made several slurs concerning her Iranian ...

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