Trump v. Superior Court – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Trump v. Superior Court (1981) 118 Cal. App. 3d 411, the plaintiff sued Carlino on an agreement between the plaintiff and Carlino to purchase a business from the Trumps.

In the same action, the plaintiff also sued the Trumps on their agreement to sell the business. The Trumps cross-complained against the plaintiff for breach of the sale agreement.

In a judicial arbitration proceeding, the plaintiff received an award against Carlino, but the Trumps received an award on their cross-complaint against the plaintiff. Carlino timely elected a trial de novo, but the plaintiff did not. The court nonetheless held Carlino's trial de novo request required trial of the entire case, including the Trumps' cross-complaint against the plaintiff.

The court noted, first, that the statutes and court rules pertaining to judicial arbitration made no provision for a trial de novo as to part of an arbitration award. ( Trump, supra, 118 Cal. App. 3d 411, 415.)

Second, the court stated it would be unfair to allow a party to wait until the last possible moment and then request a trial de novo only on certain aspects of the award, when the other party had refrained from requesting a trial de novo based on its satisfaction with the award as a whole. ( Id.., at pp. 416-417.)

At the same time, the court in dictum indicated there might be situations in which a partial trial de novo would be appropriate:

"If plaintiff's claims against the various defendants were totally unrelated, both legally and factually, a better argument could be made in favor of a subsequent partial trial de novo. Here, however, where the claims emanate from a single integrated set of facts, and where resolution of a factual issue may affect several theories of liability, the resulting award is more appropriately treated as indivisible for purposes of subsequent trial." (Trump, supra, 118 Cal. App. 3d 411, 417.)