JAMS is a non-profit organization which administers arbitration proceedings for parties who agree to use their services. Here, by virtue of signing up to an account with OpenSea, YOU agreed that any legal claims you had against OpenSea would be brought using JAMS administered arbitration.
Arbitration is very different from suing someone in Court. There are pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Generally speaking there is far less formality in an arbitration proceeding, and in theory, the process can proceed to a final decision much faster than in litigation. Litigation will generally involve alot of what are called "pretrial procedures" which generallly focus on ways for a defendant to get rid of a case before it even gets to a Judge or Jury. It also entails heavy use of "discovery" procedures, which are the tools by which parties to litigation can force the other side or third parties to turn over information for the purposes of helping that party prepare their case for trial. These procedures can add countless hours to a dispute and are the major factor running up the cost of litigation compared to arbitration.
Of course, Arbitration proceedings can devolve into mini litigations if the parties and Arbitrator are not cognizant of costs and conduct the proceedings in as efficient a manner as possible. But GENERALLY speaking, an Arbitration claim can get to a hearing quicker, because the Arbitrator is PAID to hear the case by the private parties with the dispute. There is no crowded docket which the PRIVATE Judge has to attend like a public Judge of a State or Federal Court.
JAMS Arbitrators are the best in the business, many being distinguished former Judges. They are also expensive. Daily rates can be from $5,000 to $10,000 and up. YOUR agreement with OpenSea says that they, Opensea, will pay MOST of the costs IF your claim seeks $10,000 or less from them. It also says that OpenSea will pay for all or alot of your fees if you can prove to the arbitrator that you could not afford to pay them. There is no formula, but arguments can be made based on the case law of California (the law OpenSea chose to govern its agreeement) as to when the costs of arbitrations can be deemed "not affordable" for a private individual. One case, for example, held that it was not "affordable" for a Claimant to have to spend 20% of their yearly income to have their case heard.
If you do go ahead with the Claim the procedure is as follows:
(1) You submit your claim online at www.jamsadr.com.
(2) You pay a filing fee of $1750 for a claim involving you and OpenSea. This can be reduced or eliminated on proof to the Arbitrator that you can't afford it, but there is a wrinkle, the arbitrator has to be PAID first to make that decision. OpenSea SHOULD pay until then, subject to repayment by you IF a decision is made that you CAN afford it.
(3) You will get a list of Arbitrators to choose from, YOU and OpenSea put them in order of preference and JAMS picks the one that most matches your joint choices.
(4) A teleconference is held to discuss when the matter will go to hearing, and whether there are any other issues, like for example, whether one party needs information from the other to prove its case and how that information can be provided and in what form.
(5) At this point, a much larger deposit is required from whomever is paying, either BOTH parties at one half the fee deposit each, or OpenSea if you can't afford to pay as determined by the Arbitrator. This deposit will be in an amount enough for the Arbitrator to bill for his or her time through the resolution of the case. So, if a 4 hour hearing is expected, and he or she will have to spend 4 hours reviewing some documents, a deposit of 8 hours at the hourly rate of the Arbitrator will be required. It may be much more than 8 hours depending on the time estimates determined at the preliminary teleconference and the issues to be decided. Fees can be hundreds of thousands for a protracted proceeding.
The enormity of the expense can be a real deterrent to either party, but both sides do have an incentive to keep things at a reasonable cost.
If you have a claim against Opensea I can assist you at varying levels of service in a making your claim. The rules of evidence and other complicated rules of procedure that REQUIRE an Attorney to manage in a regular Superior Court or Federal District Court lawsuit are not applicable in a JAMS arbitration. A smart business person could navigate the process on their own without any legal representation. But of course, having a lawyer represent you is always smart. The less formal nature of the proceeding SHOULD result in much LESS use of Attorney time, and for matters involving the MERITS of your claims and not simply procedure.
I will get your JAMS claim filed for an initial refundable retainer of $1500 (I bill hourly at $300 per hour). I will evaluate your claim at no obligation and only file claims that have some merit.
If I recommend against filing I will explain why and refund your retainer minus $300 for the time it will take me to give you written opinion as to the issues with your case and a general plan for what options you may have for attaining your objectives without filing an Arbitration claim.
1. Give me your name, email and phone on the form below.
2. Download the fee agreement and sign and date and return to me via email at Law@WhatIsTheLaw.com
3. Click on the link below to pay the $1500 refundable retainer (apart from a $300 charge if I provide you with a written opinion as to problems with your claim.) This $300 has a satisfaction guarantee, meaning if you tell me the advice was worthless, I will refund your money entirely, no questions asked.