Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Signature on Employment Application Can’t Be Assumed to Be That of Applicant—Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A trial court was justified in denying a petition to compel arbitration based on the statement by the plaintiff, who is suing for wrongful termination, disputing that she signed papers agreeing to arbitrate any disputes with employer, where the employer did not produce a witness who saw her affix her signature, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.
The unpublished opinion was written for Div. Three by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue, sitting on assignment. It affirms a decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael P. Linfield.
The defendant, American International Industries, which manufactures beauty and skin care products, produced the discharged worker’s employment application and agreement not to divulge trade secrets, both of which contained arbitration clauses and bore a signature.
Charlie Loveless, the company’s vice president of operations, said in a declaration that it was the company’s “policy” and its practice, in “the regular course of business,” to obtain a job applicant’s signature on such documents before granting employment. Loveless said there were redactions of “private, personal information” pertaining to the plaintiff, Dulce Quintana.
Her declaration said she could not determine whether the application form that was produced was the one she signed because “most of it has been redacted” and she said she did “not recall signing the Trade Secrets Agreement.”
“Loveless’s declaration failed to authenticate Quintana’s signature on either document. Rather, as the trial court pointed out, Loveless merely assumed the signatures were Plaintiff’s based on Defendant’s policy and course of business to have prospective employees sign them. This was insufficient to authenticate the signatures, particularly in the face of Quintana’s dispute as to their authenticity….
“ Defendant’s proof failed because its witness had no personal knowledge Quintana signed the agreements. Nothing in the Evidence Code allows the court to assume Quintana signed them based on testimony about Defendant’s general policy of obtaining signatures.”
The case is Quintana v. American International Industries, B262241.
Ramin R. Younessi and Christina M. Coleman of the Law Offices of Ramin R. Younessi represented Quintana and John A. Conkle, H. Kim Sim, and Emil Davtyan of Conkle, Kremer & Engel were attorneys for American International.
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