NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS
BENKE, Acting P. J.
In this arbitration case, we affirm the trial court's order affirming an arbitration award in favor of plaintiff, cross-defendant and respondent DJO, LLC (DJO) and dismissing as untimely defendant, cross-complainant and appellant MioMed Orthopaedics, Inc.'s (MioMed) underlying breach of contract claims. In particular, we find that, although the arbitration took place as the result of an order compelling arbitration entered in an action initiated in Illinois state court, the trial court had jurisdiction to consider DJO's petition to confirm the arbitrator's award. We also find the arbitrator's award was not the result of any misconduct, act in excess of the powers provided to the arbitrator, or the arbitrator's failure to hear material evidence.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
A. Parties' Agreement
DJO is based in California and designs and manufactures medical devices used to assist patients recovering from surgery. MioMed is an Illinois medical device sales company. In 2002, DJO and MioMed entered into a distributorship agreement under which MioMed became DJO's independent sales representative in Illinois and Indiana. The parties initially agreed to a term of four years, but later, by amendment, extended the term of the distributorship agreement.
In particular, the distributorship agreement provided that any disputes between the parties would be governed under California law and would be resolved by way of arbitration; the parties further agreed that any arbitration would take place in San Diego, California and that, notwithstanding the arbitration agreement, the parties could seek equitable or injunctive relief either in the United State District Court for the Southern District of California or in state courts in San Diego.
B. Illinois Litigation
In May 2008, DJO notified MioMed that it was terminating the distributorship agreement as of June 6, 2008. Thereafter, the parties negotiated with respect to a number of disputes and the possibility MioMed would merge with another DJO distributor. Those negotiations were unsuccessful.
On June 26, 2009, MioMed filed a complaint against DJO in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois for, among other matters, breach of contract. In particular, MioMed alleged that DJO owed it a $750,000 termination fee.
DJO appeared in the Illinois action and promptly moved to compel arbitration of MioMed's claims. On June 10, 2010, the Illinois trial court granted DJO's motion to compel with respect to two of the three claims set forth in MioMed's complaint. The Illinois court stayed further proceedings with respect to the two arbitrable claims and ordered DJO to answer with respect to the third claim. The parties attempted to resolve their claims over the next four years.
Although DJO's alleged breach of contract occurred in 2008, when the distributorship agreement ended and the alleged termination fee was not paid, and although DJO's motion to compel arbitration was granted in 2010, MioMed made no attempt to have its claims against DJO arbitrated until July 24, 2014, at which point it served DJO with a demand for arbitration.
The parties agreed to an arbitrator, who issued a discovery and scheduling order, which required that any motion for summary judgment be heard no later than July 17, 2015 and set a hearing on any matters not resolved by summary judgment for September 9, 2015.
The arbitrator heard telephonic argument and granted DJO's motion. The arbitrator found MioMed's 2008 Illinois complaint for breach of contract did not toll the statute of limitations. In particular, the arbitrator relied on the provision of the arbitration clause which stated that arbitration of any claims was a "condition precedent" to the parties' right to bring any civil action and determined the Illinois action was not a substitute for filing an arbitration demand.
MioMed then moved for reconsideration of the arbitrator's award and argued the "condition precedent" issue had not been raised in DJO's motion for summary judgment. MioMed further argued DJO's Illinois motion to compel satisfied the requirement that arbitration be exhausted before legal action could be initiated. DJO objected to the motion to reconsider, and the arbitrator denied the motion.
On October 15, 2015, DJO filed a petition to confirm the arbitrator's award in the San Diego Superior Court.
MioMed responded by way of a cross-motion to stay or, in the alternative, vacate the arbitrator's award. MioMed argued confirmation of the award should be determined in Cook County Circuit Court, where MioMed argued the arbitration had been initiated; in the alternative, MioMed argued that the award should not be confirmed because the arbitrator acted improperly in basing his ruling on the "condition precedent" language in the parties' agreement.
The trial court granted DJO's petition to confirm the arbitrator's award on December 1, 2015.
The trial court entered judgment in DJO's favor on April 18, 2016.
Contrary to MioMed's first argument on appeal, the trial court had jurisdiction
We reject MioMed's contention that on this record section 1292.6 provides an exception to the jurisdiction provided to the trial court by section 1292.2. Section 1292.6 states: "After a petition has been filed under this title, the court in which such petition was filed retains jurisdiction to determine any subsequent petition involving the same agreement to arbitrate and the same controversy, and any such subsequent petition shall be filed in the same proceeding." (Italics added.) Section 1292.6 is part of Title 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which embodies the California Arbitration Act. As MioMed contends, where applicable, section 1292.6's provision of continuing jurisdiction is, by its terms, mandatory. However, as DJO contends, the only petition under the California Arbitration Act in the record here is DJO's petition to confirm the arbitrator's award.
Admittedly, after MioMed filed its Illinois complaint, DJO filed a motion to compel arbitration in the Illinois action and its motion was granted. Nonetheless, contrary to MioMed's argument, we cannot interpret DJO's motion to compel as a petition within the meaning of section 1292.6. We recognize, as DJO argues, that the Illinois complaint did not conform to the express forum requirements of the distribution agreement; however, we do not believe that fact is necessarily controlling with respect to application of the continuing jurisdiction provided by section 1292.6. (See Frog Creek Partners, LLC v. Vance Brown, Inc. (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 515, 532 [arbitration often begins as objection or defense to legal action].) Rather, we find section 1292.6 inapplicable on somewhat different grounds.
Our review of the record discloses DJO's Illinois motion to compel was not made under the provisions of the California Arbitration Act, but was expressly made under the provisions of the Illinois' Uniform Arbitration Act (715 ILCS 15/1 et seq.). Consistent with its express terms, we interpret section 1292.6 as providing continuing jurisdiction to courts only when petitions under the California Arbitration Act have been filed in those courts. The Legislature's distinct treatment of petitions brought under the California Arbitration Act as opposed to petitions brought under the arbitration laws of other states, such as DJO's motion to compel, serves obvious and significant interests. Where a court of this state or a sister state is acting under Title 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, it is applying the California Arbitration Act and protecting the interests of California parties to the extent our arbitration statute provides such protection. In that instance, providing the court where the arbitration process was initiated with the mandatory continuing jurisdiction provided by section 1292.6 poses no real risk to California interests, whether the court is a California court or the court of a sister state. On the other hand, where, as here, a sister state acted under its own arbitration law in ordering arbitration, there is no assurance that California's interests will be vindicated by application of the California Arbitration Act and hence section 1292.6 does not provide mandatory continuing jurisdiction.
In instances such this, the trial court may nonetheless have discretion to defer to a court in a sister state acting under its own arbitration law, but it is not required to do so. That discretion arises under the distinct doctrine and defense of a prior pending action. (See Leadford v. Leadford (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 571, 574; Colvig v. RKO General, Inc. (1965) 232 Cal.App.2d 56, 70-71.) As the court in Leadford v. Leadford stated: "The pendency of another earlier action growing out of the same transaction and between the same parties is a ground for abatement of the second action. . . . [¶] However, abatement is required only where the multiple actions are pending in courts of the same state. (Simmons v. Superior Court (1950) 96 Cal.App.2d 119, 123 [pendency of prior suit in one state cannot be pleaded as a bar to a subsequent suit in another state]; and see Rest.2d, Conf. of Laws, § 86.) Where, as here, the actions are pending in courts of different states, the determination whether to stay the later-filed action is discretionary, not mandatory. . . . In many cases, considerations of comity and the prevention of multiple and vexatious litigation will most often militate in favor of stay. However, other factors weigh in the balance, and where judicial economy, the interests of the forum, and the convenience of the parties weigh in favor of allowing the action to proceed, the trial court has discretion to deny the stay." (Leadford, at pp. 574-575, italics added & fn. omitted.) In this case, where the parties have not offered argument here or in the trial court on the factors discussed by the court in Leadford, we have no basis upon which to determine whether the trial court's failure to defer to the Illinois court was an abuse of discretion.
In sum, the trial court here had jurisdiction under section 1292.2, and there is nothing in the record on appeal which deprived it of that jurisdiction.
A. Arbitrator's Award
As we have indicated, in finding MioMed's claim was barred by the statute of limitations, the arbitrator determined that under the terms of the distribution agreement, arbitration was expressly "a condition precedent" to any legal action between the parties. The arbitrator's award states: "This `condition precedent' is mandatory, not permissive. Thus, for purposes of applying the parties' Agreement, Claimant's filing in an Illinois court is not a substitute for filing an arbitration demand. Only a demand, not the filing of a civil lawsuit, constitutes the operative commencement of the contractually mandated arbitration for statute of limitations purposes." Because more than four years had passed from the time of DJO's alleged 2008 breach when MioMed made its 2014 demand, the arbitrator found the demand was time barred under the four-year limitation period set forth in section 337.
MioMed concedes that it may not challenge the arbitrator's award on the grounds that it is legally incorrect. (See Moncharsh v. Heily & Blase (1992) 3 Cal.4th 1, 11.) Thus, we need not and do not consider whether either MioMed's Illinois complaint or DJO's motion to compel arbitration were sufficient to toll the statute of limitations. Rather, MioMed argues the arbitrator's conduct of the arbitration, rather than his reasoning, require that his award be vacated.
B. Section 1286.2
Section 1286.2 subdivision (a)(3), (a)(4) and (5) permit a trial court to vacate an arbitration award where it is shown the arbitrator engaged in misconduct, acted outside his powers or failed to consider evidence offered by one of the parties. Here, MioMed contends the arbitrator engaged in misconduct, acted outside his powers and failed to consider evidence because MioMed contends that, in relying on the "condition precedent" language of the distribution agreement, the arbitrator acted sua sponte and on a basis not raised by DJO in its motion. The record simply does not support this contention.
By way of its motion DJO expressly argued that MioMed's claim was barred by the statute of limitations and that, because the Illinois action was not filed in California it did not toll the limitations period.
In this regard, we note that in the somewhat analogous situation presented by Government Code section 68081, which requires that we permit additional briefing before relying on an issue not raised by the parties, no briefing is required with respect to "an issue, mode of analysis, or authority that is raised or fairly included within the issues raised." (People v. Alice (2007) 41 Cal.4th 668, 679, italics added.) Here, the statute of limitations was raised by DJO, as were the requirements of the distribution agreement and the potential impact of the Illinois action; the arbitrator's strict interpretation of the distributorship agreement was fairly included in those issues.
The cases MioMed relies upon—Bonshire v. Thompson (1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 803, 811 and California Faculty Assn. v. Superior Court (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 935, 951-953—are readily distinguishable from the record here. There is no showing the arbitrator here considered evidence outside the record, as in Bonshire v. Thompson, and the distributorship agreement here contains none of the particular limitations on the arbitrator's powers that were present in California Faculty Assn. v. Superior Court.
The judgment is affirmed. DJO to recover its costs on appeal.
HALLER, J. and AARON, J., concurs.
In its opposition to DJO's arbitral motion for summary judgment, Miomed argued that the authority DJO relied upon was no longer controlling and that: "DJO does not cite any current, in effect statute which provides that an action is commenced for purposes of stopping the statute of limitations from running only when it is filed in the proper court. The current applicable statute of limitation period specified in Code of Civil Procedure, section 337, only provides, `[w]ithin four years. 1. An Action upon any contract, obligation or liability founded upon an instrument in writing . . . [.]' [¶] Further, a civil action is `commenced' for statute of limitations purposes against persons named in the complaint upon the filing of the complaint. (Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial-Statutes of Limitations (The Rutter Group) 2014 1:58, p. 1-2) In the present case, the statute of limitations stopped running when MioMed filed its complaint in the Illinois Action on June 29, 2009, alleging, inter alia, counts for breach of contract. The complaint was filed well within four years of DJO's alleged breaches of the Agreement.