Injured Plaintiff May Have A Disadvantage in Arbitration Versus Court
Docket No. A-3092
Decided March 30, 2021
Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished decision the Appellate Division reviewed whether an arbitration clause in a release agreement at Sky Zone signed by the plaintiff was enforceable and therefore, a jury trial would be waived and plaintiff would be compelled to arbitration.
In Lawrence, Before entering the indoor trampoline facility, plaintiff was required to execute a six-page release agreement entitled “Participation Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk” (Release Agreement). The Release Agreement generally required him to release the facility from liability, assume the risk of using the trampolines and other equipment, and waive certain rights, such as his right to a jury trial by agreeing to arbitrate covered disputes.
The parties were required to utilize a company, JAMS to administer the arbitration proceeding, but JAMS was unavailable. The Judge concluded the agreement was unenforceable because of JAMS unavailability, and therefore concluded there was no mutual assent of the parties to enter into the agreement.
Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division reversed, finding that the unavailability of JAMS did not render the agreement unenforceable because the agreement also provided for the waiver a jury. Therefore, the parties knew they would be waiving a jury, and in the event JAMS became unavailable, the New Jersey Arbitration Act (NJAA) would replace any missing terms in the agreement, including the appointment of a missing arbitrator – as was the case here. The Appellate Division upheld the release agreement and compelled arbitration under the NJAA.
Arbitration is an alternative path to resolution for a personal injury matter. It is out of court, however it is structured similarly to court with rules that mirror court in some aspects. Sometimes, arbitration can be a faster process. If there is an agreement for binding arbitration, once the arbitrator decides the issues, it will most likely be upheld like a court order. Trying to vacate an arbitration award can be as difficult as changing a court order.
Injured plaintiff may have a disadvantage in arbitration. If you have been injured and have questions about the differences of arbitration and court for your personal injury matter, contact our experienced attorneys at Hark & Hark today.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, truck crash, wrongful death, or other premises related injury, you need to make sure you contact a personal injury attorney with experience today. Failing to consider these issues could result in your case be dismissed permanently. Do not hesitate to contact Hark & Hark today to discuss your personal injury.
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