In an action against plaintiff's school claiming it was liable under hate crimes laws for death threats he received from classmates who misperceived his sexual orientation, judgment granting petition to confirm an arbitration award against plaintiff and denying a petition to vacate is reversed where: 1) plaintiff and his parents filed suit against a school, seeking remedies under the California hate crimes laws, and since hate crimes laws constitute unwaivable statutory rights comparable to antidiscrimination laws, neither the student nor his parents may be required to pay any type of arbitral expense that would not be imposed were the dispute adjudicated in court; and 2) hate crimes laws prohibit an award of fees to a prevailing defendant, and thus render the award of attorney's fees in the case invalid. On remand, the trial court must ensure that the arbitration award does not include any inappropriate arbitral expenses or any attorney's fees prohibited by hate crimes laws.
Filed August 14, 2009
Opinion by Judge Mallano
Dissent by Judge Rothschild
Robert S. Gerstein, Los Angeles, CA