A bank operating in Montgomery now requires customers to sign an online banking agreement that is 97 page long and includes 56,724 words.
(For comparison, the U.S. Constitution has 4,543 words.)
It requires customers to agree to never to sue the bank, and instead to go though "arbitration", a subject I have written about previously on this website. At the very top of the "agreement" is this notice. Below that notice is the arbitration agreement.
YOUR ATTENTION IS DRAWN TO THE ARBITRATION AND WAIVER OF JURY TRIAL PROVISIONS IN SECTION 8.F. IF A DISPUTE ARISES BETWEEN US, YOU OR WE MAY REQUIRE THAT IT BE RESOLVED THROUGH ARBITRATION, RATHER THAN THROUGH JURY TRIAL.
ARBITRATIONBy opening or maintaining the account, you agree that if a dispute, claim or controversy of any kind arises out of or relates to this Agreement or to your account or any transactions involving your account, or any service or product related to your account, either you or we can choose to have that dispute resolved by binding arbitration. This arbitration provision limits your ability to litigate claims in court and your right to a jury trial. You should review this section carefully. You will not have the right to participate as a class representative or member of any class of claimants for any claim subject to arbitration. Arbitration is a more informal proceeding in which disputes are decided by one or more neutral arbitrators who receive the evidence and then issue a binding ruling in the form of an award. You and we understand that discovery and other procedures in arbitration may be more limited than discovery in court proceedings and that the ability to modify, vacate, or appeal an award by an arbitrator(s) is strictly limited.
You and we agree, upon written demand made by you or us, to submit to binding arbitration all disputes, controversies, and claims, whether based on contract, fraud, tort, intentional tort, statute, regulation, constitution, common law, equity, or any other legal basis or theory, and whether pre-existing, present, or future, that arise out of or relate to (a) this Agreement, your account, any transaction involving your account, any service or product related to your account, or any advertisements, promotions, or oral or written statements related to this Agreement or your account, (b) the relationships that result from this Agreement (including, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, relationships with third parties who are not parties to this Agreement or this arbitration provision), or (c) the validity, interpretation, scope or enforceability of this Agreement or the interpretation or scope of the Arbitration Clause (collectively, a "Claim"). All parties retain the right to seek relief in a small claims court for disputes or claims within the jurisdictional limits of the small claims court. At the option of the first to commence arbitration, you or we may choose to have the arbitration conducted by JAMS ADR ("JAMS") or the American Arbitration Association ("AAA"), or you and we may agree upon a different arbitrator. In any event, any arbitration under this Agreement shall be conducted in writing in accordance with the applicable arbitration rules of the arbitrator or arbitration organization ("Rules"). If an arbitrator other than the AAA is chosen, the Rules of the AAA will be applied to any circumstance that is not addressed by the Rules of the chosen arbitrator. In the event of any inconsistency between this Agreement and the Rules to be used for arbitration, such inconsistency shall be resolved in favor of this Agreement. This arbitration provision is made pursuant to a transaction involving interstate commerce, and the Federal Arbitration Act (the "FAA") shall apply to the construction, interpretation, and enforceability of this Agreement notwithstanding any other choice of law provision contained in this Agreement.
Either you or we may initiate arbitration by giving written notice of the intention to arbitrate to the other party and by filing notice with JAMS or the AAA in accordance with the Rules in effect at the time the notice is filed. The notice shall set forth the subject of the dispute and the relief requested, at a minimum. The demand for arbitration may be made before or after commencement of any litigation. You should contact the AAA at 800-778-7879 or www.adr.org or JAMS at 800-352-5267, www.jamsadr.com for more information about arbitration. If for any reason the AAA or JAMS is unable or unwilling to serve as arbitration administrator, or you and we are unable to agree on another arbitrator, we will substitute another national or regional arbitration organization.
Demand for arbitration under this Agreement must be made before the date when any judicial action upon the same Claim would be barred under any applicable statute of limitations; otherwise, the Claim also is barred in arbitration. Any dispute as to whether any statute of limitations, estoppel, waiver, laches, or similar other doctrine bars the arbitration of any Claim shall be decided by arbitration in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement.
You cannot join together in a dispute with anyone other than persons who use your account. Even if other people have disputes similar to a dispute that you and we have, those people and their disputes cannot be part of any arbitration between you and us. A Claim by, or on behalf of, other persons will not be considered in, joined with, or consolidated with, the arbitration proceedings between you and us, and a Claim may not be arbitrated on a class action, private attorney general, or other representative basis. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, any dispute regarding the prohibitions in this paragraph or about the enforceability of the arbitration clause shall be resolved by a court and not by the arbitrator(s).
Where the aggregate of all Claims by both you and us does not exceed $250,000, any expedited procedures provided in the Rules ("Expedited Procedures") shall apply and a single arbitrator shall decide the Claims. Where the aggregate of all Claims by both you and us exceeds $250,000, a panel of three arbitrators shall decide all Claims. Each arbitrator, whether or not acting under Expedited Procedures, shall be an active member in good standing of the bar for any state in the continental United States and shall be either: (a) actively engaged in the practice of law for at least 5 years or (b) a retired judge.
You and we agree that the arbitrator(s): (a) shall limit discovery to non-privileged matters directly relevant to the arbitrated dispute; (b) shall grant only relief that is based upon and consistent with substantial evidence and applicable substantive law; (c) shall have authority to grant relief only with respect to Claims asserted by or against you individually; (d) shall not have any authority to require, as part of any relief granted, that you and we continue any relationship we may have under this Agreement or otherwise; and (e) shall provide a brief written explanation of the basis for the award upon the request of either party and shall make specific findings of fact and conclusions of law to support any arbitration award that exceeds $25,000. Upon written request by you, for claims up to $50,000, we will pay to the AAA or JAMS the portion of the arbitration filing fee that exceeds the cost of filing a lawsuit in the federal court where you live.
Upon written request by you, we may elect, at our sole discretion, to pay or advance some or all of any remaining arbitration fees and other costs. The arbitrator will decide whether we or you ultimately will be responsible for paying any filing, administrative or other fees in connection with the arbitration. If you are the prevailing party in the arbitration, the arbitrator(s) also may order us to pay some or all of your attorney, expert, and/or witness fees. Any arbitration proceedings shall be conducted in the federal judicial district where we maintain your account. Judgment upon any award rendered in arbitration may be entered in any court having jurisdiction.
If you or we are seeking to bring a joined, consolidated, or class action and if the portion of this arbitration provision that prohibits the arbitration of joined, consolidated, or class actions is deemed invalid or unenforceable, then the entire arbitration provision shall be void and unenforceable and severed from the rest of this Agreement. If any portion of this arbitration provision other than the prohibition against the arbitration of joined, consolidated or class actions is deemed invalid or unenforceable, then that portion will be severed and the remaining portions of this arbitration provision will remain valid and enforceable including the prohibition against the arbitration of joined, consolidated or class actions. Nothing in this arbitration provision shall limit your or our right, whether before, during, or after the pendency of any arbitration proceeding, to exercise any self-help remedies, such as set-off or repossession and sale of collateral, or to obtain provisional or ancillary remedies or injunctive or other traditionally equitable relief, such as filing an interpleader action. You and we agree that the taking of these actions or any other participation in litigation by you or us does not waive any right that either you or we have to demand arbitration at any time with respect to any subsequent or amended Claim filed against you or us after commencement of litigation between you and us. This arbitration provision shall survive termination of this Agreement and the closing of your Account.
WAIVER OF JURY TRIALThis provision limits your rights to a jury trial. You should review this section carefully. If (i) neither you nor we seek to compel arbitration of any dispute we have related to this Agreement, your account, or any transactions involving your account, or (ii) some or all of the arbitration clause is unenforceable and we are in a dispute in a court of law, then each of us agrees to waive any right we may have to a jury trial to the extent allowable under the laws of the state that govern this Agreement.
Attorneys’ Fees. In any action between you and us in court, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover its reasonable attorneys’ fees expended in the prosecution or defense of the court action from the other party.