A poem by CCBA Past President Jane Shay Wald, Irel & Manella LLP
Republished with permission from AIPLA Quarterly Journal, Volume 50, NO.4, Winter 2022.
By Brett Nicole Taylor, Cozen O’Connor
The Century City Bar Association looks forward to celebrating with you at our upcoming 55th Annual Installation Banquet and Awards Ceremony tomorrow night on September 14th. The Banquet is being held for the first time at the new Fairmont Century Plaza Ballroom right here in Century City.
CCBA will be honoring the following outstanding lawyers at this years’ Banquet:
Music Lawyer of the Year – Alexander (Sasha) Frid, Miller Barondess, LLP
Trial Lawyer of the Year – Timothy B. Yoo, Bird Marella, PC
Antitrust Lawyer of the Year – Bo Pearl, Paul Hastings, LLP
Probate Litigation Lawyer of the Year – Benazeer “Benny” Roshan, Greenberg Glusker, LLP
Employment Lawyer of the Year – Kerry Garvis Wright, Glaser Weil
Internet Litigation Lawyer of the Year – Victor Jih, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
We cannot wait to celebrate these outstanding lawyers at our new Banquet venue.
We were honored to welcome the new Los Angeles City Attorney, Hydee Feldstein Soto, for a luncheon at Bird Marella P.C. on August 8th. CCBA members met the new city attorney and learned about her priorities, the challenges she sees for the City, and her ideas for addressing them.
On October 24, we will have a lunch hour CLE program on “California’s New Rule 8.3: The Four Questions” with panelists Rachelle M. Cohen from Valensi Rose PLC (and CCBA Board Member), along with Neil J. Wertlieb of Milbank LLP. The event will be hosted by CCBA Board Member Jesse B. Levin at Glaser Weil. Click here to sign up.
Thank you to all who attended our social mixer in May at Cuvee, and thanks again to our sponsor for the mixer, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. It was a pleasure meeting more colleagues in the Century City area. We have another mixer planned for October 26. Click here to sign up. I hope that you can join us for some drinks, appetizers, and great conversations!
We are also working on dates for some additional CLEs, social events, and a poker night in the near future, so look out for updates on these events as well.
We look forward to seeing everyone this year at the upcoming events. And always feel free to email us with suggestions or questions at BTaylor@cozen.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Brett Taylor, President
By Brett D. Watson, Cozen O’Connor
On January 19, 2023, the California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4, issued a troubling decision regarding the evidentiary value of electronic signatures in Iyere v. Wise Auto Group.1
First, a caveat. The troubling part is dicta, not the core decision. The core decision is perfectly sound. That said, the dicta is troubling enough to warrant this alert.
Plaintiffs, a group of employees, filed certain claims against their former employer, Wise Auto Group (WAG). WAG moved to compel arbitration. In opposition, Plaintiffs each filed nearly identical oppositions claiming that they did “not recall” signing the arbitration agreement. The trial court denied the motion; WAG appealed.
The Court of Appeal soundly reversed, holding that Plaintiffs’ inability to recall signing the documents is largely irrelevant because they do not deny that their respective, personal signatures appear on the document. Absent testimony that the physical signatures were forged or inauthentic, testimony that they did not recall signing is insufficient to create a factual dispute.
However, the Court of Appeal made it clear that this decision was based largely on the fact that the signatures were personal, physical signatures – not electronic signatures. “While handwritten and electronic signatures once authenticated have the same legal effect, there is a considerable difference between the evidence needed to authenticate the two. Authenticating an electronic signature if challenged can be quite daunting.”2 The Court of Appeal reasoned that an individual cannot confirm or deny the authenticity of an electronic signature simply by looking at the document.3 Accordingly, “the individual’s inability to recall signing electronically may reasonably be regarded as evidence that the person did not do so.”4 By contrast, a person “is capable of recognizing his or her own personal signature” and if “the individual does not deny that the handwritten signature is his or her own, that person’s failure to remember signing is of little or no significance.”5
The Court of Appeal noted, but expressly disagreed with, a 2021 decision in a case styled Gamboa v. Northeast Community Clinic.6 The Gamboa court stated that physical versus electronic signatures are a “distinction without a legal difference” because “electronic and handwritten signatures have the same legal effect and are equally enforceable.”7
This line of cases is one to keep a close eye on. Until this issue is fleshed out and more clearly resolved, consider mandating that all agreements (such as arbitration agreements, in which authenticity is frequently called into question) be signed with physical signatures.
1Iyere v. Wise Auto Group, 2023 WL 314122 (2023).
2Id. at *6 (emphasis added).
3Id. at *5.
4Id. at *5.
5Id. at *5.
6Gamboa v. Northeast Community Clinic (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 158
7Id. at *5.
The article was originally published on January 24, 2023, on cozen.com.
Brett D. Watson is a commercial litigator who practices in Cozen O’Connor’s Santa Monica office, where he also serves as Chair of the firm’s Retail Banking Practice. For more than two decades, top banks, credit card issuers, and financial institutions across the United States have called upon him to litigate issues relating to the full spectrum of their retail financial products. Brett be reached at (213) 892-7938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 7 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Century City Bar Association
P.O. Box 24273
Los Angeles, CA 90024