Dispute Resolution — Arbitration Agreement
Our philosophy is to treat all consumers, including our customers, honestly and reasonably. If a concern, complaint, or claim arises between You and Crutchfield, You and Crutchfield agree to work diligently and in good faith to reach a resolution that is fair and equitable to both sides. On occasion, despite our respective best efforts, a third party may be necessary to help resolve problems that may arise between You and Crutchfield.
YOU AND CRUTCHFIELD AGREE THAT ALL DISPUTES BETWEEN US THAT CANNOT BE RESOLVED INFORMALLY SHALL BE RESOLVED ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS BY BINDING ARBITRATION OR IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT ONLY. YOU AND CRUTCHFIELD ALSO AGREE TO WAIVE ANY AND ALL RIGHTS TO A TRIAL BY JURY AND TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY WAY IN A CLASS ACTION IN CONNECTION WITH ANY SUCH DISPUTES OR TO MAKE OR PROCEED WITH ANY CLAIM ON A COLLECTIVE OR CONSOLIDATED BASIS.
All Disputes Covered. You and Crutchfield agree that this arbitration agreement covers all concerns, complaints, demands for relief, and claims of any kind that may arise between You and Us, including, but not limited to, those arising out of or related to these Terms, the operation and content of the Website, your use of the Website, communications between You and Us, and the purchase and use all products and services offered by Us (each a “Dispute,” and, collectively, the “Disputes”). You and Crutchfield further agree that our mutual obligation to arbitrate encompasses every kind of Dispute, including, but not limited to, statutory, regulatory, constitutional, and common law Disputes, including those involving allegations of negligence and intentional wrongdoing (including fraud or misrepresentation), and irrespective of the source or origin of the law which may govern or give rise to such Disputes.
All Persons and Entities Covered. This arbitration agreement applies to all agents, attorneys, contractors, subcontractors, service providers, employees, and all others acting for, on behalf of, or under Crutchfield’s direction or control, and all companies affiliated with Crutchfield (including, but not limited to, parents, subsidiaries, and sibling corporations). This arbitration agreement is binding on You and Us, as well as our respective heirs, successors, and assigns.
Governing Law. This arbitration agreement is governed exclusively by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and federal law, and not by any state or local laws, or the laws of other countries, concerning or purporting to place limits on the availability or scope of arbitration or impose obligations greater than, or inconsistent with, the FAA.
The Informal Settlement Process. Before You or Crutchfield can file a claim in arbitration or small claims court, You and Crutchfield are each required first to participate in an informal settlement process for a period of sixty (60) days for the purpose of resolving each Dispute.
To initiate the informal settlement process, the claiming party must send to the other party a short, written statement (a “Claim Statement”) explaining all Disputes in sufficient detail for the other party to understand and investigate them, along with a proposal for resolving them, including any amount of money being claimed and the basis for that calculation. You agree to send Claim Statements by email to LegalDepartment@crutchfield.com or by certified mail, return receipt requested to:
1 Crutchfield Park
Charlottesville, Virginia 22911
ATTN: Legal Department
You and Crutchfield will then, upon receipt of the Claim Statement, attempt in good faith to resolve each Dispute described in the Claim Statement on an individual basis. If any such Dispute is not resolved by sixty (60) days following receipt of the Claim Statement, You and Crutchfield thereafter have the right to resolve any such Dispute either in small claims court or by individual arbitration, subject to the requirements described below. Any statute of limitations applicable to such Disputes shall be suspended for the sixty (60) day period during which You and Crutchfield attempt to resolve such Disputes informally. You and Crutchfield may agree to extend the period for resolving such Disputes beyond sixty (60) days, and, if so, any applicable statutes of limitation shall be suspended for that additional period as well.
Disputes Not Settled Informally May Only Be Resolved in Small Claims Court or By Individual Arbitration. At end of the 60-day informal settlement process, any Disputes addressed, but unresolved, may be asserted on an individual basis in either (1) small claims court in: (a) the county or parish where you live, if such a court is available and has jurisdiction to hear the Dispute; or (b) another location You and Crutchfield agree on, but only if the Disputes (and the relief they seek) qualifies to be brought in that court; or (2) binding individual arbitration as provided for in this arbitration agreement.
Arbitration Rules and Requirements
While there is no judge or jury in an arbitration, the arbitrator has the power to award the same individual relief and must follow this arbitration agreement in the same way as a court. In the event You and Crutchfield disagree on whether a Dispute must be arbitrated, the arbitrator shall have, but only to extent permitted by law, the sole authority to address all such disagreements, including, but not limited to, arguments concerning the formation, legality, and enforceability of this arbitration agreement, the scope of the arbitration agreement, and the arbitrability of any Dispute arising between you and us.
Any court of competent jurisdiction will have the authority to enforce these arbitration requirements (including those related to mass arbitration set forth below) and, if necessary, enjoin the filing or prosecution of arbitrations and/or the assessment of fees by the AAA or any other organization, arbitrator, or mediator in a manner inconsistent this arbitration agreement.
General Arbitration Rules. The arbitration process will differ depending on whether your claim is pursued individually or as part of a Mass Arbitration (which is defined below). In the case of a mass arbitration, if there is a conflict between these General Arbitration Rules and the rules described below pertaining to mass arbitration, the Mass Arbitration Rules will control. Otherwise, these General Arbitration Rules shall control. To the extent that any cause of action or claim for relief cannot for any reason be addressed in arbitration, you and Crutchfield agree that any court proceedings shall be stayed pending the final resolution in arbitration of all arbitrable causes of action and claims for relief.
All arbitrations shall be before a single arbitrator. Arbitrations involving consumer Disputes shall be governed by these terms and the AAA Consumer Arbitration Rules and the AAA Consumer Due Process Protocol, which you can find here: adr.org/consumer. All other arbitrations shall be governed by these terms and the AAA Commercial Arbitration Rules and the AAA Optional Appellate Rules, which you can find here: adr.org/commercial. To the extent there is a conflict between the terms of this arbitration agreement and any applicable AAA rules and protocols, the terms shall control, but only to the extent that the mutual obligation to arbitrate is preserved.
Disputes that involve an individual claim for less than $25,000 (US) in actual or statutory damages (but not including any amounts claimed for attorneys’ fees and incidental, consequential, punitive, or exemplary damages, and excluding any damage multipliers), must be resolved exclusively through binding non-appearance-based arbitration based solely on the written submissions of the parties. All other arbitrations will be conducted by telephone, online, or based solely on written submissions, including affidavits, and will not involve any personal appearances by parties or witnesses unless the parties mutually agree otherwise. Judgment on an arbitrator’s award may be entered in any court that has jurisdiction to do so.
Except as otherwise expressly provided, the American Arbitration Association shall be the arbitration administrator. To begin an arbitration proceeding, the party initiating the arbitration must send a letter requesting arbitration and describing the Dispute(s) to:
American Arbitration Association Case Filing Services
Or by filing the request online through the AAA’s website: adr.org/Support. For demands initiated against Crutchfield, a copy of the demand must also be sent by mail to:
1101 Laurel Oak Road
Voorhees, NJ 08043
Or email to: LegalDepartment@crutchfield.com.
1 Crutchfield Park
Charlottesville, Virginia 22911
ATTN: Legal Department
If the AAA is for any reason unavailable, unable, or unwilling to handle an arbitration under these rules, You and Crutchfield shall negotiate in good faith on the substitution of another organization or individual to handle the arbitration in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of our arbitration agreement. If such an alternate cannot be agreed upon, You or Crutchfield may petition a court of competent jurisdiction to appoint an organization or individual to conduct the arbitration in a manner consistent with the requirements of our arbitration agreement.
Mass Arbitration Rules. If twenty-five (25) or more claimants file, or indicate an intention to file, directly or through counsel, demands for arbitration against Crutchfield raising substantially identical Disputes, and counsel for the claimants are the same or coordinated across such Disputes (a “Mass Arbitration”), these special rules shall apply. In the case of a Mass Arbitration, to the extent there is a conflict between these Mass Arbitration Rules and any other provisions of this arbitration agreement, these Mass Arbitration Rules will control.
Each individual claimant that is part of a Mass Arbitration must complete the informal settlement process before that claimant can proceed to arbitration. Counsel for claimants and Crutchfield shall agree to the submission of a single Claim Statement for all Mass Arbitration claimants, but only if it identifies each claimant by name and mailing address. Once the sixty (60) day informal settlement process has ended for all Mass Arbitration claimants, the Mass Arbitration claimants must then follow the “bellwether procedure” described below in which a group of ten (10) selected claimants proceed to arbitration (each a “bellwether arbitration”), followed by a mandatory mediation process through which the Disputes of one or more Mass Arbitration claimants may be settled.
Counsel for claimants and Crutchfield’s counsel shall each select five (5) claimants for bellwether arbitrations (ten (10) in total) to be each promptly decided individually as a bellwether arbitration conducted pursuant to the General Arbitration Rules set forth in these terms, above, with each case assigned to a separate arbitrator. Crutchfield reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to permit counsel for claimants to select all ten (10) bellwether cases. These bellwether arbitrations shall be subject to the AAA Multiple Consumer Case Filing Fee Schedule. Each bellwether arbitration shall be completed within one-hundred-twenty (120) days from the date by which all ten (10) claimants for bellwether arbitrations have been selected unless the parties agree to a different deadline. In the meantime, no other demands for arbitration may be filed, processed, or in any way deemed filed, but instead shall be stayed until the ten bellwether arbitrations and the subsequent mediation process required by the Mass Arbitration rules (and described below) has ended, and no fees or arbitrator compensation shall be assessed regarding such stayed cases. For such stayed Disputes, all applicable statutes of limitation shall also be stayed until the mediation process required by these Mass Arbitration Rules has ended.
Upon the resolution of the ten (10) bellwether cases, counsel for Crutchfield and counsel for claimants shall participate promptly and in good faith in non-binding confidential mediation for a period of sixty (60) days in a good faith effort to resolve all Mass Arbitration Disputes. This mediation shall be conducted by the AAA under the Mediation Procedures of the American Arbitration Association as may be in effect at that time. If prior to or during the mediation, Crutchfield presents a written settlement offer seeking to resolve the claims of some or all Mass Arbitration claimants, counsel for those claimants shall present that written settlement offer, in the exact form in which it is tendered, to each claimant to which it is directed.
If the bellwether arbitrations and the subsequent mediation are unsuccessful in resolving the disputes of all Mass Arbitration claimants, those Mass Arbitration claimants whose claims have not been resolved may pursue their claim on an individual basis, but only with FairClaims, Inc. (“FairClaims”), to be arbitrated under FairClaims’s Small Claims Rules & Procedures. To the extent that any cause of action or claim for relief cannot for any reason be addressed by FairClaims under its Small Claims Rules & Procedures, you and Crutchfield agree that any court proceedings involving Mass Arbitration claimants and Crutchfield concerning their Disputes shall be stayed pending the final resolution in arbitration with Crutchfield of all arbitrable causes of action and claims for relief. Any claims pending with any arbitration provider or arbitrator other than FairClaims shall promptly be dismissed without prejudice.
If the AAA is for any reason unavailable or unable to handle the bellwether arbitrations or the mediation called for these Mass Arbitration Rules, Crutchfield and counsel for claimants shall negotiate in good faith for the substitution of another organization or individual to carry out these functions in a manner that is cost effective to both parties and proceeds in accordance with the requirements of our arbitration agreement, including these Mass Arbitration Rules. If such an agreement cannot be reached for any reason, Crutchfield or counsel for claimants may petition a court of competent jurisdiction to appoint an organization or individual to conduct the bellwether arbitrations and mediation consistent with the requirements of this arbitration agreement, including the Mass Arbitration Rules.
Fees and Costs. You and Crutchfield will bear our own costs, arbitral fees, and attorneys’ fees in the event of a Dispute, provided, however, that either party may recover fees and costs to the extent permitted by applicable law. If the arbitrator determines that an arbitration has been brought in bad faith, for an improper purpose, or to exert unfair pressure disproportionate to the harm alleged in the Disputes, or that the demand was frivolous, the arbitrator may award costs, arbitration fees, and attorneys’ fees to the party defending itself in connection with the Disputes.
No Class Actions. You and Crutchfield agree that we can each only bring Disputes against the other on an individual basis. This means: (a) neither You nor We can bring a claim as a plaintiff or class member in a class action, consolidated action, or representative action; (b) an arbitrator cannot combine multiple people’s claims into a single case (or preside over any consolidated, class, or representative action); and (c) an arbitrator’s decision or award in one person’s case can only decide the disputes of that user, not other users. Nothing in this section is intended to limit the individual relief available to either You or Us in arbitration or small claims court. Nor does anything in this section limit the parties’ rights to resolve a Dispute by mutual agreement through a class-wide settlement of claims.
Rules of Construction. The requirements of these terms related to dispute resolution shall be interpreted, to the maximum extent permitted by law, to facilitate the resolution of all disputes in arbitration in a way that is cost-effective to all parties.
Severability. If any terms related to dispute resolution shall be held to be unenforceable, the remaining provisions shall remain in effect to the maximum extent permitted by law in a manner that facilitates resolution of Disputes in arbitration in a way that is cost effective to all parties. To the extent that any other provision of the terms is found to be inconsistent with rights, duties, and requirements of these terms related to dispute resolution, or where the application of such a provision would change or render unenforceable any provision of these terms related to dispute resolution, such provision shall be null, void, and of no effect and the dispute resolution provisions of these terms shall control.
30-Day Right to Opt Out of Arbitration Agreement. You have the right to opt out of the provisions of this arbitration agreement by sending written notice of your decision to opt out to: [email address], within 30 days after first becoming subject to this arbitration agreement. Your notice must include your name and address, your email address, and an unequivocal statement that you want to opt out of this arbitration agreement. If you opt out of this arbitration agreement, all other parts of these terms will continue to apply to you. Opting out of this arbitration agreement has no effect on any other arbitration agreements that you may currently have, or may enter in the future, with us.
Survival. All provisions of the terms regarding dispute resolution, including the arbitration agreement, shall survive termination.