Casa del Caffe Vergnano v. ItalFlavors, LLC, No. 13-56091 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
ItalFlavors filed suit against Caffe Vergnano, blaming the failure of an Italian cafe venture on Caffe Vergnano's failure to offer support. The parties had entered into an agreement, the Commercial Contract, which appears to be a franchise agreement setting forth the rights and responsibilities of the parties. The second agreement is the Hold Harmless Agreement. Caffe Vergnano filed a petition to compel arbitration and the district granted the petition. The court concluded that the declaration in the Hold Harmless Agreement signed contemporaneously with the Commercial Contract proves that the latter was a mere sham to help Hector Rabellino obtain a visa. Therefore, the court concluded that the Commercial Contract was not a contract and is thus unenforceable. Because the court found that the document the parties described as the Commercial Contract was a sham, the arbitration clause is no more enforceable than any other provision in that document. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment.