Hiro N. Aragaki, Esq., FCIArb is a distinguished neutral with more than 20 years of experience, including almost a decade of full-time law practice at global law firms and service as a neutral since 2001. Mr. Aragaki is an internationally recognized expert in arbitration and mediation who has trained judges and lawyers and is frequently called upon to consult on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) reform projects around the world. He brings energy, sharp analytic skills and a talent for thinking outside the box. He is particularly well known for shrewd case management, something he credits to the influence of the Hon. Fern M. Smith (Ret.), for whom he served as a law clerk.
As an arbitrator, Mr. Aragaki strives to design and manage the optimal procedure for a particular dispute. He believes in getting to a hearing on the merits as efficiently as possible and without over-lawyering or relying on technicalities, while remaining open to a variety of process enhancements aimed at achieving accurate results, such as tentative rulings and draft awards. He is familiar with civil and common law adjudicative approaches.
As a mediator, Mr. Aragaki is known for investing extra work prior to the mediation to narrow the issues and ensure that parties and counsel come fully prepared. He sees his role as helping parties make the best-possible decision about settlement based on careful case evaluation, reality-testing about litigation risks and transaction costs, and creative problem-solving. He is accustomed to using a wide range of directive and facilitative interventions, as appropriate.
Mr. Aragaki is a citizen of the U.S. and Japan, and an overseas citizen of India. He has lived in the U.K., Germany and France.
ADR Experience and Qualifications
- Arbitrated and mediated hundreds of disputes since 2001
- Approximately 10 years of law firm practice experience, primarily in complex commercial litigation and arbitration, as well as in securities transactions and general corporate matters
- Represented clients in large, multi-million-dollar disputes before state and federal trial courts, courts of appeal and supreme courts, as well as in commercial arbitrations before the AAA, LCIA, ICC, ICDR and LCIA
- Representative sectors: commercial aviation, banking and financial institutions, franchising, agency and distributorships, hotels/hospitality, energy (including wind power and liquid natural gas), technology and software, and telecommunications
- Extensive experience in the negotiation of consulting, credit, employment, financing, indemnification, licensing and purchase/sale contracts, as well as in drafting disclosures, corporate bylaws, board resolutions and SEC filings
- Professor of contract law with a deep understanding of specialized issues relating to interpretation/construction, best efforts and the duty of good faith, material/total breach and equitable remedies
- Admitted to practice in New York, California, Washington, D.C., as well as to the Roll of Solicitors (non-practising) in England and Wales; fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
- Taught or teaching the following courses in law and business schools since 2003: Contracts, Contract Drafting, Introduction to Business Law, International Business Transactions, Alternative Dispute Resolution, International Commercial Arbitration, Mediation, Negotiation, Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution for Lawyers, and Cross-Border/Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution
Representative Matters as a Neutral
- Bifurcated, multi-year dispute seeking declaration of ownership interests in a credit card processing company, interpretation of the scope and validity of a release of claims, and determination of residuals-based compensation under National Sales Master Agreements; claims alleged included claims of breach of contract and promissory estoppel
- Dispute between a packaging company and an auto dealership involving claims of breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of warranty, rescission, and negligence; case raised threshold jurisdictional and third-party joinder issues
- Commercial dispute between manufacturer and retailer of vapor and e-liquid products
- Dispute between a wellness provider and a uniform rental/supply company involving breach of a services agreement; case raised third-party joinder issues
- Breach of contract dispute between major, publicly traded uniform services corporation and food service provider involving breach of a facility services agreement
- Commercial dispute between a domestic linen supply company and an automotive company
- Breach of contract dispute involving a major credit card company
- Commercial dispute against one of the nation’s fastest-growing tech companies, involving claims of breach of contract and counterclaims of trade disparagement and unfair competition under Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.
- LLC dissolution involving claims of constructive fraud, breach of an oral loan agreement and guaranty, and promissory estoppel; case raised jurisdictional and third-party joinder issues
- Dispute between a television development/distribution company and a production company involving claims and counterclaims of breach of contract, intentional and negligent interference with contractual relations/economic relations, and conversion
- Breach of contract dispute between a car rental software app and a service provider
- Commercial dispute involving a peer-to-peer online car-sharing platform
- Dispute between a mobile app/software development company and a health care services company involving claims and counterclaims for breach of a master services agreement, account stated, fraud/misrepresentation, and conversion
- Commercial dispute between a shareholder and a publicly traded cloud-based education management service company
- Commercial dispute between a multinational publicly traded motorsports promotion company and a soil-stabilization company
- Commercial dispute involving one of the world’s largest online ticket marketplaces
- Dispute between a mobile banking app and a financial products nonprofit involving breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
- Commercial dispute between an online networking platform and a technology PR firm over a public relations agreement, raising alter ego claims
- Dispute between a national time management software/hardware company and a software company involving claims of libel, slander and unfair competition (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.), and allegations of trade secret misappropriation
- Dispute between nationwide food service franchisor and a franchisee involving claims of breach of a franchise agreement, indemnity, and failure to accept a tender of defense
- Breach of contract dispute between a hospital and a provider of temporary medical staff
- Dispute between a global internet dating app and a consumer involving claims of age-based discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act; case involved motion practice over choice of law and attorney disqualification for the unauthorized practice of law in California
- Dispute involving a global ride-sharing app over claims of sexual orientation-based discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, violations of the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.) and breach of contract
- Disability discrimination dispute under FEHA for punitive damages, declaratory relief and an injunction; case raised complex, unsettled questions regarding the employer’s duty to engage in the interactive process
- Age discrimination case involving a prominent insurance company, raising claims of wrongful termination and infliction of emotional distress, as well as violations of FEHA (failure to prevent, retaliation), Labor Code §§ 203, 226.4, 1194 and 2802, and Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.
- Civil rights case involving a major school district, raising claims under state and federal constitutions and under the Americans with Disabilities Act, among others
- Dispute over performance-based compensation for content streaming between a U.S.-based eSports website and a U.K.-based media and broadcasting company, and involving claims and counterclaims for defamation and breach of a content provider agreement
- Dispute between consortium of investors based in China and a U.S.-based aviation school involving claims of breach of contract, fraud/misrepresentation, concealment, violations of the California Unfair Competition Law, alter ego, unjust enrichment and declaratory relief
Personal Injury and Torts
- Personal injury dispute involving a national furniture and electronics company over claims of strict products liability and negligence
- Complex dispute involving an automobile dealership and a finance company over claims under the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (including § 1782(b) offer issues), the California Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200), the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Automobile Sales Finance Act, as well as claims of fraud/misrepresentation, breach of contract, rescission of contract, seeking damages, declaratory relief and a public injunction
- Dispute involving an automobile finance company over claims under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the California Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200), and claims for fraud/misrepresentation and concealment
- Dispute involving the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and a leading airline for negligence
- Numerous disputes involving claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA)
- Chair of tripartite panel reviewing arbitration award rendered against a publicly traded education loan management and business processing company, involving claims under the TCPA and the RFDCPA; case raised issues regarding the applicable standard of review, a circuit split in the definition of “automated telephone dialing system” and gaps in the record
Professional Liability and Fee Disputes
- Attorney fee dispute between a law firm and a construction company
- Attorney fee dispute between a law firm and a dental practice
- Attorney fee dispute between a law firm and an individual
- Attorney fee dispute raising complex issues regarding whether law firm retained on contingency may recover in quantum meruit after withdrawing for good cause; proceeding bifurcated with motion practice
- Numerous forensic accounting fee disputes
- Complex, $43 million dispute between a health care services company and a major multinational financial institution in connection with a variety of auction rate securities products and involving claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud/misrepresentation, negligence, and violations of SEC Rule 10b-5 and Cal. Corp. Code § 25401 et seq.
- Multi-million-dollar dispute between an investor and a major broker-dealer involving claims of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, constructive fraud, fraud/misrepresentation, and violations of SEC Rule 10b-5 and California blue sky laws, among others
- Dispute involving investment management firm in connection with complex private placement products and receivables-backed securities, raising claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and punitive damages