Neal Marder Quoted in Law360 and Daily Journal on Los Angeles Hotel Dispute

Akin Gump litigation partner Neal Marder has been quoted in the Law360 story “LA Four Seasons Wants Arbitration Agreement Nixed” regarding a case on behalf of Burton Way Hotels LLC, the owner of a Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles, which is urging a federal judge to reject an arbitration agreement it entered into with Four Seasons Hotels Ltd., saying it only agreed to the pact if a certain judge was involved in the arbitration process.

Marder leads an Akin Gump team representing Burton Way, which had accused Four Seasons of violating a deal for the exclusive use of the brand and its associated operating systems at its Beverly Hills hotel. The article reports that Burton Way said its agreement to arbitrate the dispute was based on representations from a particular judge that a trial date was not forthcoming. The judge subsequently recused himself from the suit amid charges of improper ex parte communications with Four Seasons which, as the article notes, led Burton Way to argue that the entire arbitration agreement should be thrown out with the case returned to court for a trial.

With the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit vacating an award dismissing Burton Way’s claims that had been issued in the underlying arbitration, Marder told Law360 that the appellate court “in reversing in part the arbitrator’s decision and remanding the case to the district court, sent a clear signal that there were several egregious errors committed and that very serious issues are at play surrounding Four Seasons’ wrongful spoliation and destruction of key evidence that severely prejudiced Burton Way. We will be seeking to have a jury trial on these issues and pursuing sanctions against Four Seasons.”

Speaking further about the case to Daily Journal, Marder said, “We spent months on this arbitration agreement, Judge Gandhi was an integral part of it, and there are specific provisions that make” a statute allowing judges to select arbitrators inapplicable.