Aixtron, Inc. v. Veeco Instruments Inc.Annotate this Case
Saldana resigned from his position at Veeco and went to work for a competitor, Aixtron. Veeco initiated arbitration proceedings against Saldana under an arbitration clause in his employee confidentiality agreement, alleging breach of contract, breach of the duty of loyalty, and conversion, including alleged data theft. Aixtron was not a party to the arbitration. The arbitrator granted Veeco’s application for a pre-hearing discovery subpoena for Aixtron’s business records, including a demand that Aixtron produce any computers that Saldana had used for forensic examination by “an agreed-upon third-party neutral expert.” Over Aixtron’s objections, the arbitrator granted Veeco’s motion to compel. Aixtron sought judicial review; Veeco filed a separate petition to enforce the arbitrator’s discovery order, which the court granted.
The court of appeal reversed, after first finding the order appealable. The arbitrator did not have the authority to issue a discovery subpoena to Aixtron in these circumstances under either the Federal Arbitration Act or the California Arbitration Act. Federal precedent indicates that there is no right to pre-hearing discovery under the FAA. There is no such right under Code of Civil Procedure section 1282.61 since the parties to the arbitration did not provide for full discovery rights in their arbitration agreement.