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DISPUTE RESOLUTION – ARBITRATION AGREEMENT (Mandatory Binding Arbitration and Class Action Waiver)
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REJECT THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT AS DESCRIBED BELOW. If you do not reject this Arbitration Agreement and a Claim is arbitrated, neither you nor we will have the right to: (1) have a court or a jury decide the Claim; (2) engage in information-gathering (discovery) to the same extent as in court; (3) participate in a class action, private attorney general or other representative action in court or in arbitration; or (4) join or consolidate a Claim with claims of any other person. The right to appeal is more limited in arbitration than in court and other rights in court may be unavailable or limited in arbitration.
- Electing Arbitration; Starting an Arbitration Proceeding: Either you or we may elect to arbitrate a Claim by giving the other party written notice of the intent to arbitrate the Claim or by filing a motion to compel arbitration of the Claim. This notice may be given before or after a lawsuit has been filed concerning the Claim or with respect to other Claims brought later in the lawsuit, and it may be given by papers filed in the lawsuit, such as a motion to compel arbitration. Each of the arbitration administrators listed below has specific rules for starting an arbitration proceeding. Regardless of who elected arbitration or how arbitration was elected, the party asserting the Claim (i.e., the party seeking money damages or other relief from a court or an arbitrator) is responsible for starting the arbitration proceeding. Thus, if you assert a Claim against us in court, and we elect to arbitrate that Claim by filing a motion to compel arbitration which is granted by the court, you will be responsible for starting the arbitration proceeding. Similarly, if we assert a Claim against you in court, you assert a counterclaim against us, and we elect to arbitrate that counterclaim by filing a motion to compel arbitration which is granted by the court, you will be responsible for starting the arbitration proceeding. Even if all parties have opted to litigate a Claim in court, you or we may elect arbitration with respect to any Claim made by a new party or any Claim later asserted by a party in that or any related or unrelated lawsuit (including a Claim initially asserted on an individual basis but modified to be asserted on a class, representative or multi-party basis). Nothing in that litigation shall constitute a waiver of any rights under this Arbitration Agreement.
- Choosing the Administrator: The party starting the arbitration proceeding must choose one of the following arbitration organizations as the Administrator: the American Arbitration Association (the “AAA”), 120 Broadway, Floor 21, New York, N.Y 10271, www.adr.org., or JAMS, 1920 Main St. Ste. 300, Irvine, CA 92614, www.jamsadr.org. You may contact these organizations directly if you have any questions about the way they conduct arbitrations or want to obtain a copy of their rules and forms (which are also available on their websites). A single arbitrator shall be appointed. If for any reason the Administrator selected is unable or unwilling to serve or continue to serve as Administrator, the other company will serve as Administrator. If neither the AAA nor JAMS is able or willing to serve as Administrator, we and you will mutually agree upon an Administrator or arbitrator or a court with jurisdiction will appoint the Administrator or arbitrator (or arbitrators, in the case of a three-arbitrator panel provided for in Section “j”, below). No company may serve as Administrator, without the consent of all parties, if it adopts or has in place any formal or informal policy that is inconsistent with and purports to override the terms of the Class Action Waiver in section (e) of this Arbitration Agreement. In all cases, the arbitrator(s) must be a lawyer with more than 10 years of experience or a retired judge. Arbitration of a Claim must comply with this Arbitration Agreement and, to the extent not inconsistent or in conflict with this Arbitration Agreement, the applicable rules of the arbitration Administrator.
- Location of Arbitration: Any arbitration hearing that you attend must take place at a location reasonably convenient to your residence.
- Cost of Arbitration: Each Administrator charges fees to administer an arbitration proceeding and the arbitrator also charges fees. This includes fees not charged by a court. At your written request, we will pay all filing, hearing and/or other fees charged by the Administrator and arbitrator to you for Claim(s) asserted by you in an individual arbitration after you have paid an amount equivalent to the fee, if any, for filing such Claim(s) in state or federal court (whichever is less) in the judicial district in which you reside. (If you have already paid a filing fee for asserting the Claim(s) in court, you will not be required to pay that amount again). In addition, the administrator may have a procedure whereby you can seek a waiver of fees charged to you by the Administrator and arbitrator. We will always pay any fees or expenses that we are required to pay by law or the Administrator’s rules or that we are required to pay for this Arbitration Agreement to be enforced.
- Right to Discovery: In addition to the parties’ rights to obtain discovery pursuant to the arbitration rules of the Administrator, either party may submit a written request to the arbitrator to expand the scope of discovery normally allowable under the arbitration rules of the Administrator. The arbitrator shall have discretion to grant or deny that request.
- Arbitration Result and Right of Appeal: Judgment upon the award given by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding, except for any right of appeal provided by the FAA. The arbitrator’s authority shall be limited to deciding the case submitted by the parties to the arbitration. Therefore, no decision by any arbitrator shall serve as precedent in other arbitrations except in a dispute between the same parties, in which case it could be used to preclude the same claim from being re-arbitrated. If the amount of the Claim exceeds $25,000, any party can, within 30 days after the entry of the award by the arbitrator, appeal the award to a three-arbitrator panel administered by the Administrator. (If an appeal is not filed within that time period, the arbitration award shall become final and binding). The panel shall reconsider de novo (anew) any aspect of the initial award requested by the appealing party. This means that they shall reach their own findings of fact and conclusions of law rather than deferring in any manner to the original arbitrator. The decision of the panel shall be by majority vote. Reference in this Arbitration Agreement to “the arbitrator” shall mean the panel if an appeal of the arbitrator’s decision has been taken. The costs of such an appeal will be borne in accordance with subparagraph (g) above, captioned “Cost of Arbitration.” Any final decision of the appeal panel is subject to judicial review only as provided under the FAA.
(A) The parties acknowledge that the Class Action Waiver is material and essential to the arbitration of any disputes between them and is non-severable from this Arbitration Agreement. If the Class Action Waiver is limited, voided or found unenforceable, then this Arbitration Agreement (except for this sentence) shall be null and void with respect to such proceeding, subject to the right to appeal the limitation or invalidation of the Class Action Waiver. The parties acknowledge and agree that under no circumstances will a class action be arbitrated; and
(B) If a Claim is brought seeking public injunctive relief and a court determines that the restrictions in the Class Action Waiver or elsewhere in this Arbitration Agreement prohibiting the arbitrator from awarding relief on behalf of third parties are unenforceable with respect to such Claim (and that determination becomes final after all appeals have been exhausted), the Claim for public injunctive relief will be determined in court and any individual Claims seeking monetary relief will be arbitrated. In such a case the parties will request that the court stay the Claim for public injunctive relief until the arbitration award pertaining to individual relief has been entered in court. In no event will a Claim for public injunctive relief be arbitrated.
- Notice of Claim; Right to Resolve; Special Payment: Prior to initiating, joining or participating in any judicial or arbitration proceeding regarding any Claim, the Claimant (the party who asserts or seeks to assert a Claim in a lawsuit or arbitration proceeding) shall give the other party written notice of the Claim (a “Claim Notice”) and a reasonable opportunity, not less than 30 days, to resolve the Claim. Any Claim Notice you send must include your name, address, telephone number and loan or account number. Any Claim Notice must explain the nature of the Claim and the relief that is demanded. You may only submit a Claim Notice on your own behalf and not on behalf of any other party. The Claimant must reasonably cooperate in providing any information about the Claim that the other party reasonably requests. If: (i) you submit a Claim Notice in accordance with this paragraph on your own behalf (and not on behalf of any other party); (ii) we refuse to provide the relief you request before an arbitrator is appointed; and (iii) an arbitrator subsequently determines that you were entitled to such relief (or greater relief), the arbitrator shall award you at least $7,500 (not including any arbitration fees and attorneys’ fees and costs to which you may be entitled under this Arbitration Agreement or applicable law). We encourage you to address all Claims you have in a single Claim Notice and/or a single arbitration. Accordingly, this $7,500 minimum award is a single award that applies to all Claims you have asserted or could have asserted in the arbitration, and multiple awards of $7,500 are not contemplated by this Section.
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