DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND ARBITRATION
PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY; IT AFFECTS YOUR RIGHTS
In those rare instances where your concern is not resolved to your satisfaction through calls to our customer service center, you and SmartEnergy each agree to try to resolve those disputes in good faith after you provide written notice of the dispute as set forth below. If the dispute is not resolved, you and SmartEnergy agree that the dispute will be resolved through individual binding arbitration or small claims court, instead of courts of general jurisdiction.
Mandatory Arbitration and Waiver of Class Action Instead of suing in court, you and SmartEnergy agree to arbitrate all Disputes (as defined below) on an individual, non-representative, basis. You agree that, by entering into this Agreement, you and SmartEnergy are waiving the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action or representative action. This agreement to arbitrate is intended to be broadly interpreted.
In arbitration, there is no judge or jury. Instead Disputes are decided by a neutral third-party arbitrator in a more informal process than in court. In arbitration, there is limited discovery and the arbitrator’s decision is subject to limited review by courts. However, just as a court would, the arbitrator must honor the terms of the Agreement and can award damages and relief, including any attorneys’ fees authorized by law.
“Disputes” shall include, but are not limited to, any claims or controversies against each other related in any way to or arising out of in any way our Services or the Agreement, including, but not limited to, coverage, Devices, billing services and practices, policies, contract practices (including enforceability), service claims, privacy, or advertising, even if the claim arises after Services have terminated. Disputes also include, but are not limited to, claims that: (a) you or an authorized or unauthorized user of the Services or Devices bring against our employees, agents, affiliates, or other representatives; (b) you bring against a third party, such as a retailer or equipment manufacturer, that are based on, relate to, or arise out of in any way our Services or the Agreement; or (c) that SmartEnergy brings against you. Disputes also include, but are not limited to, (i) claims in any way related to or arising out of any aspect of the relationship between you and SmartEnergy, whether based in contract, tort, statute, fraud, misrepresentation, advertising claims or any other legal theory; (ii) claims that arose before this Agreement or out of a prior Agreement with SmartEnergy; (iii) claims that are subject to on-going litigation where you are not a party or class member; and/or (iv) claims that arise after the termination of this Agreement.
Arbitration Terms, Process, Rules and Procedures
(1) SmartEnergy and you agree to arbitrate ALL DISPUTES AND CLAIMS between us. This agreement to arbitrate is intended to be broadly interpreted. It includes, but is not limited to:
- claims arising out of or relating to any aspect of the relationship between us, whether based in contract, tort, statute, fraud, misrepresentation or any other legal theory;
- claims that arose before this or any prior Agreement (including, but not limited to, claims relating to advertising);
- claims that are currently the subject of purported class action litigation in which you are not a member of a certified class; and
- claims that may arise after the termination of this Agreement.
References to “SmartEnergy,” “you,” and “us” include our respective subsidiaries, affiliates, agents, employees, predecessors in interest, successors, and assigns, as well as all authorized or unauthorized users or beneficiaries of services or Devices under this or prior Agreements between us. Notwithstanding the foregoing, either party may bring an individual action in small claims court. This arbitration agreement does not preclude you from bringing issues to the attention of federal, state, or local agencies, including, for example, the Federal Trade Commission.
Such agencies can, if the law allows, seek relief against us on your behalf.
YOU AGREE THAT, BY ENTERING INTO THIS AGREEMENT, YOU AND SMARTENERGY ARE EACH WAIVING THE RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION. This Agreement evidences a transaction in interstate commerce, and thus the Federal Arbitration Act governs the interpretation and enforcement of this provision. This arbitration provision shall survive termination of this Agreement.
(2) A party who intends to seek arbitration must first send to the other, by certified mail, a written Notice of Dispute (“Notice”). The Notice to SmartEnergy should be addressed to: Legal Department, SmartEnergy, 575 Lexington Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10022. (“Notice Address”). The Notice must (a) describe the nature and basis of the claim or dispute; and (b) set forth the specific relief sought (“Demand”). If SmartEnergy and you do not reach an agreement to resolve the claim within thirty (30) days after the Notice is received, you or SmartEnergy may commence an arbitration proceeding. During the arbitration, the amount of any settlement offer made by SmartEnergy or you shall not be disclosed to the arbitrator until after the arbitrator determines the amount, if any, to which you or SmartEnergy is entitled. You may download or copy a form Notice and a form to initiate arbitration at ww2.SmartEnergyenergy.com/arbitration-forms.
(3) After SmartEnergy receives notice at the Notice Address that you have commenced arbitration, it will promptly reimburse you for your payment of the filing fee, unless your claim is for greater than $75,000. (The filing fee currently is $200 for claims under $10,000 but is subject to change by the arbitration provider. If you are unable to pay this fee, SmartEnergy will pay it directly upon receiving a written request at the Notice Address.) The arbitration will be governed by the Commercial Arbitration Rules and the Supplementary Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes (collectively, “AAA Rules”) of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”), as modified by this Agreement, and will be administered by the AAA. The AAA Rules are available online at adr.org, by calling the AAA at 1-800-778-7879, or by writing to the Notice Address. The arbitrator is bound by the terms of this Agreement. All issues are for the arbitrator to decide, except that issues relating to the scope and enforceability of the arbitration provision are for the court to decide. Unless SmartEnergy and you agree otherwise, any arbitration hearings will take place in the county (or parish) of your billing address. If your claim is for $10,000 or less, we agree that you may choose whether the arbitration will be conducted solely on the basis of documents submitted to the arbitrator, through a telephonic hearing, or by an in-person hearing as established by the AAA Rules. If your claim exceeds $10,000, the right to a hearing will be determined by the AAA Rules. Regardless of the manner in which the arbitration is conducted, the arbitrator shall issue a reasoned written decision sufficient to explain the essential findings and conclusions on which the award is based. Except as otherwise provided for herein, SmartEnergy will pay all AAA filing, administration, and arbitrator fees for any arbitration initiated in accordance with the notice requirements above. If, however, the arbitrator finds that either the substance of your claim or the relief sought in the Demand is frivolous or brought for an improper purpose (as measured by the standards set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b)), then the payment of all such fees will be governed by the AAA Rules. In such case, you agree to reimburse SmartEnergy for all monies previously disbursed by it that are otherwise your obligation to pay under the AAA Rules. In addition, if you initiate an arbitration in which you seek more than $75,000 in damages, the payment of these fees will be governed by the AAA rules.
(4) If, after finding in your favor in any respect on the merits of your claim, the arbitrator issues you an award that is greater than the value of SmartEnergy’s last written settlement offer made before an arbitrator was selected, then SmartEnergy will:
- pay you the amount of the award or $10,000 (“the alternative payment”), whichever is greater; and
- pay your attorney, if any, twice the amount of attorneys’ fees, and reimburse any expenses (including expert witness fees and costs) that your attorney reasonably accrues for investigating, preparing, and pursuing your claim in arbitration (“the attorney premium”).
If SmartEnergy did not make a written offer to settle the dispute before an arbitrator was selected, you and your attorney will be entitled to receive the alternative payment and the attorney premium, respectively, if the arbitrator awards you any relief on the merits. The arbitrator may make rulings and resolve disputes as to the payment and reimbursement of fees, expenses, and the alternative payment and the attorney premium at any time during the proceeding and upon request from either party made within 14 days of the arbitrator’s ruling on the merits.
(5) The right to attorneys’ fees and expenses discussed in paragraph (4) supplements any right to attorneys’ fees and expenses you may have under applicable law. Thus, if you would be entitled to a larger amount under the applicable law, this provision does not preclude the arbitrator from awarding you that amount. However, you may not recover duplicative awards of attorneys’ fees or costs. Although under some laws SmartEnergy may have a right to an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses if it prevails in an arbitration, SmartEnergy agrees that it will not seek such an award.
(6) The arbitrator may award declaratory or injunctive relief only in favor of the individual party seeking relief and only to the extent necessary to provide relief warranted by that party’s individual claim. YOU AND SMARTENERGY AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN YOUR OR ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. Further, unless both you and SmartEnergy agree otherwise, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one person’s claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding. If this specific provision is found to be unenforceable, then the entirety of this arbitration provision shall be null and void.
(7) Notwithstanding any provision in this Agreement to the contrary, we agree that if SmartEnergy makes any future change to this arbitration provision (other than a change to the Notice Address) during the term of your Agreement, you may reject any such change by sending SmartEnergy written notice within thirty (30) days of change to the Notice Address provided above. By rejecting any future change, you are agreeing that you will arbitrate any dispute between SmartEnergy in accordance with this provision.