Fast & Furious Arbitration
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Mortiz v. Universal City Studios LLC (CA2/1 B299083 9/2/20)
Over the course of approximately 16 years, respondents Neal Moritz and Neal H. Moritz, Inc. (collectively, Moritz) worked for appellants, Universal City Studios LLC and its wholly-owned subsidiary, FFSO Productions LLC (collectively, Universal), rendering services as a producer for the film The Fast and the Furious (Universal Pictures 2001) and several sequels thereto (collectively, the Fast & Furious franchise). The lawsuit underlying this appeal involves a “spin-off” of the Fast & Furious franchise, a project ultimately released as Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Universal Pictures 2019) (Hobbs & Shaw), on which Moritz allegedly worked as a producer pursuant to an oral agreement with Universal. Moritz named Universal, as well as appellant Jimmy Horowitz, president of Universal City Studios LLC (collectively, appellants) as defendants in the suit. Appellants moved to compel arbitration of the suit based on arbitration agreements in written producer contracts regarding Moritz’s work for Universal on the Fast & Furious franchise. The court concluded that these arbitration agreements did not apply to the Hobbs & Shaw dispute, and denied appellants’ motion.
Appellants contend the court erred by deciding whether the Hobbs & Shaw dispute was arbitrable under the arbitration agreements contained in the Fast & Furious contracts, as those agreements are valid and binding on all parties and delegate the question of arbitrability to an arbitrator. We disagree, and therefore affirm.