California Supreme Court Holds All Contractual Jury Waivers UnenforceableAugust 4, 2005 – Article
On August 4, 2005, the California Supreme Court held that pre-dispute contractual waivers of jury trial are unenforceable as a matter of law. In summary, the court in Grafton Partners, L.P. v. Superior Court of Alameda (PriceWaterhouseCoopers L.L.P.) held as follows: (1) the California constitution provides that a person's right to jury trial may be waived only by statute, (2) the statute dealing with waivers of jury trial lists only six means of waiving a jury trial and (3) a pre-dispute, contractual waiver is not one of the six means listed in that statute. The court overruled the holding in Trizec Properties, Inc. v. Superior Court (1991) 229 Cal.App.3d 1616, which had found such waivers enforceable. At least until the California state legislature amends the statute to allow pre-dispute waivers, a provision in a contract calling for a jury waiver is unenforceable. Whether the legislature will do anything to allow pre-dispute jury waivers is open to debate.