Banister v. Marinidence Opco, LLCAnnotate this Case
Bannister worked in the administrative offices at a skilled nursing facility, for approximately three decades before Marinidence purchased the facility. A year later, Marinidence terminated Bannister. She sued, alleging discrimination, retaliation, and defamation. Marinidence moved to compel arbitration, alleging that, when it took over the facility, Bannister electronically signed an arbitration agreement while completing the paperwork for new Marinidence employees. After Bannister presented evidence that she never saw the agreement during the onboarding process, the trial court denied the motion.
The court of appeal affirmed. Because the existence of the agreement is a statutory prerequisite to granting the petition, the petitioner bears the burden of proving its existence by a preponderance of the evidence. The party seeking arbitration can meet its initial burden by attaching to the petition a copy of the arbitration agreement purporting to bear the respondent’s signature. Where, as here, the respondent challenges the validity of the signature, the petitioner must “establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the signature was authentic.” The court noted conflicting evidence, including Bannister’s evidence that she was not the only person who could have executed the arbitration agreement and the onboarding process was completed for other employees without their participation.