JAMS Arbitration

Tauler Smith Investigating Claims Against JAMS

JAMS Arbitration

The California business fraud lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP are investigating claims against JAMS after concerns were raised about the arbitration company’s relationship with WeWork. In WeWork arbitrations administered by JAMS, prior case results were known only by JAMS and WeWork. These case results were never shared with WeWork’s opponents, who are mostly small businesses. Neither WeWork nor JAMS would seem to have an interest in sharing information with WeWork’s opponents because doing so could lead to less fees for JAMS. It is wrong for JAMS to operate so obliquely. As an administrator of justice, they need to be held to a higher standard.

To learn more about the claims against JAMS, keep reading this blog.

WeWork Uses JAMS Arbitration Services

JAMS is the world’s largest private provider of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services. As the name suggests, Alternative Dispute Resolution is an alternative to traditional litigation that allows parties to resolve their legal dispute without needing to go to court for a trial. Sometimes, a contract will require two parties to use ADR services, which is what happens in the standard WeWork contract: the small business owners who sign a lease with WeWork have no choice but to use mandatory arbitration if a dispute arises, and the parties are bound by the decision of the JAMS arbitrator. JAMS also sets the rules and procedures for these arbitrations.

JAMS arbitrates cases in several practice areas, including civil rights, class actions, intellectual property, personal injury, product liability, and real estate. One of JAMS’ biggest clients appears to be WeWork, which uses JAMS to administer arbitrations anytime a dispute arises with one of WeWork’s tenants. When a small business owner signs a lease agreement with WeWork, it typically includes a pre-dispute contract that requires the parties to use arbitration if a dispute arises. The effect of these forced arbitration clauses in WeWork contracts is to have the parties waive their right to a jury trial. A WeWork contract typically stipulates that the arbitration will be administered by JAMS, and the decisions rendered by JAMS arbitrators are final and legally binding on the parties.

JAMS Won’t Disclose Data About Arbitrations Involving WeWork

Does JAMS have a conflict of interest in WeWork arbitrations? JAMS touts its ability to resolve legal and business disputes with “impartial” dispute resolution services administered by “neutral” arbitrators and mediators. The former legal professionals who administer JAMS arbitrations are known as “JAMS Neutrals.” As their title indicates, these individuals are supposed to provide fair, unbiased decisions. But there are questions about JAMS’ relationship with its biggest client – WeWork – and this has raised concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the JAMS arbitrators in these cases.

Significantly, JAMS refuses to disclose information that might show they are colluding with WeWork in arbitration. Law firm Tauler Smith LLP recently requested disclosures from JAMS about WeWork and WeWork affiliates. JAMS responded by refusing to provide the requested information because it supposedly “goes beyond legal and ethical disclosure requirements for arbitrators and would violate JAMS confidentiality obligations to other litigants.”

Thus far, JAMS has only provided data about the number of arbitrations with respect to one WeWork company: the one with a listed address of 500 7th Avenue in New Yok. JAMS did not provide any disclosures about the other 36 WeWork entities. Moreover, even the information in the JAMS disclosure about the single WeWork address is limited becuase it simply states that the 500 7th Ave. tenant has 35 pending arbitrations with JAMS and 17 pending mediations. As such, JAMS failed to address the problem identified by the business fraud lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP: that WeWork could have an unfair advantage in any JAMS-administered dispute. If JAMS administers 1,000 cases in which WeWork is one of the parties, and WeWork has won all 1,000 of these cases, why wouldn’t JAMS tell the parties about this?

Why Is JAMS Sharing Relevant Case Information Only with WeWork?

JAMS has refused to share relevant case information with WeWork’s opponents in arbitration due to what JAMS claims is a confidentiality requirement. But JAMS is allowing this information to be shared with WeWork affiliates. This has created an information imbalance that severely disadvantages the small business owners being sued by WeWork. While JAMS declines to provide specific case information to the other parties in these claims, the fact is that WeWork already has access to this information and can share with its affiliates that are involved in other disputes administered by JAMS. This means that only one side of the dispute – and not the other side – can share information with itself, know the outcomes of other cases, and share information with its affiliates. This results in an unfair advantage for WeWork in any arbitration overseen by JAMS.

If WeWork and its affiliates (i.e., WeWork shell entities) account for a significant number of JAMS cases administered in the New York market, it could be evidence of many incentives that are created by JAMS’ administration of WeWork disputes. For example, JAMS would have an incentive to litigate all WeWork cases separately so that only WeWork (and JAMS) has relevant information about outcomes. If WeWork knows that arbitrators are ruling in WeWork’s favor 100% of the time and awarding attorney’s fees every single time based on an identical contract, WeWork’s legal counsel could overbill, constantly brief unnecessary issues, file pre-trial briefs, and file post-trial briefs knowing that these requests will be granted. Further, the small business owner respondents in these cases will not have access to this information because they are not allowed to see it.

Antitrust Concerns Over JAMS’ Relationship with WeWork

JAMS has an effective monopoly over these types of cases. And they may use that privilege unfairly. This could raise concerns about JAMS violating federal antitrust laws like the Sherman Act because WeWork appears to be getting preferential treatment from JAMS. The fact is that WeWork and its affiliates are repeat customers of JAMS, not the small businesses that are typically on the other side of a dispute with WeWork.

The actions taken by JAMS with respect to its relationship with WeWork do not appear to be a fair or reasonable way to administer justice. Any system of justice should treat litigants equally. In the complaint being prepared against JAMS, the California business fraud attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP allege that their clients’ due process rights have been violated because it would be manifestly unjust to collect arbitration fees from thousands of small businesses and force them to go to a hearing to defend themselves when the end result is already known to the other party in advance.

Contact the California Business Fraud Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP

If you are a small business owner who has been forced to go into an arbitration administered by JAMS, you should speak with an experienced California business fraud lawyer immediately. The Tauler Smith LLP legal team includes attorneys who have extensive experience with professional negotiation, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution. Call or email us to schedule a free consultation about your case.

WeWork Arbitration

Tauler Smith Investigating Claims Against WeWork

WeWork Arbitration

Law firm Tauler Smith LLP is investigating claims against WeWork and JAMS over misconduct in hundreds of arbitrations initiated by WeWork against small businesses. The unprecedented number of arbitrations (enforcing identical “membership agreements” for “services” despite business closures stemming from COVID-19) generates massive revenue and incentives for JAMS, creating a conflict of interest that is not disclosed to small businesses being pursued by WeWork through JAMS. Neither JAMS nor WeWork discloses to any of these small businesses the nature of the parties’ pecuniary relationship, such as the amount WeWork pays to JAMS every year. Beyond that, neither JAMS nor WeWork discloses prior case outcomes to the small businesses pursued by WeWork, even though WeWork uses identical contracts and identical legal theories in these cases.

Only WeWork and JAMS know case outcomes, but small business opponents defending claims brought by WeWork do not. This places WeWork at a massive advantage since only they have access to certain information, including how JAMS has interpreted the identical contract on multiple occasions. The result is a process that is unfair to small business defendants. It is a process that benefits only WeWork and JAMS by perpetuating WeWork’s ability to pursue its members and by giving JAMS the continued ability to collect fees from hundreds of disputes.

To learn more about the possible legal claims against WeWork and JAMS, keep reading this blog.

WeWork Sued Small Business Owners for Rent During COVID Pandemic

WeWork is a company that provides coworking spaces to businesses. WeWork uses an identical “Membership Agreement,” but not as a lease of space; rather, it is for the provision of services. This allows WeWork to argue that legal protections ordinarily afforded to tenants do not apply to WeWork members. WeWork then argues that landlord-tenant law is applicable to obtain favorable rulings from JAMS.

The attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP are also investigating whether WeWork is reporting the revenue in Membership Agreements accurately to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). WeWork’s accounting procedures have come under public scrutiny over the last several years. The COVID-19 pandemic and the arbitrations WeWork initiated with JAMS potentially provide a means for WeWork to double-book revenue if they apply deceptive accounting methods.

Tauler Smith LLP is also investigating whether WeWork uses private arbitration to protect itself from revealing misconduct that is of concern to the public. Since WeWork structures all of its contracts to be private, only WeWork and JAMS know how and why JAMS has been ruling favorably for WeWork. Moreover, since the cases go through arbitration instead of going through the courts, the small businesses do not know the prior results. This puts the small businesses at an even greater disadvantage in the proceedings. Arbitration is often used for business conflicts that involve contract disputes. WeWork requires anyone who signs a lease with the company to agree in advance to use arbitration for any legal disputes. Even being a part of an arbitration can cost a small businesses significant money. WeWork arbitrations are administered by JAMS, an arbitration company that also provides mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services.

Tauler Smith LLP Investigates Relationship Between WeWork and Arbitration Company JAMS

Tauler Smith LLP is now investigating a possible legal claim against JAMS stemming from the arbitration company’s lucrative and ongoing relationship with WeWork. It has been reported that WeWork may be the largest tenant/landlord in all of New York City, and it is believed that WeWork has pursued hundreds (if not thousands) of claims against its members using only one arbitration company: JAMS. This would mean that JAMS has received millions of dollars from WeWork. JAMS is therefore incentivized to side with WeWork in every case, creating a conflict of interest that is not disclosed. Based on our preliminary investigation, no WeWork member has ever won a JAMS-arbitrated dispute against WeWork. Since WeWork members are never informed of case results – but JAMS and WeWork are privy to this information – WeWork cases submitted to JAMS are inherently unfair.

WeWork uses discrete companies for each of their workplaces to further obfuscate the claims it pursues against its members, as well as the work it gives to JAMS. Tauler Smith LLP has obtained a list of 36 company names and/or addresses for WeWork affiliates that have been involved in arbitrations administered by JAMS:

  • 18691 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92612
  • 1601 Vine St., Los Angeles, CA 90028
  • 8305 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069
  • 8687 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90069
  • 4041 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92660
  • 600 B St., San Diego, CA 92101
  • 71 Stevenson St., San Francisco, CA 94105
  • 535 Mission St. 14th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105
  • 3001 Bishop Dr., San Ramon, CA 94583
  • 255 Giralda Ave. Floor 5, Coral Gables, FL 33134
  • 78 SW 7th St., Miami, FL 33130
  • 765 W. Peachtree St. NW #4, Atlanta, GA 30308
  • 31 St. James Ave. 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02116
  • 200 Portland St., Boston, MA 02114
  • 625 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
  • 1330 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55408
  • 10845 Griffith Peak Dr. #2, Las Vegas, NV 89135
  • 12 E. 49th St., New York, NY 10017
  • 115 Broadway, New York, NY 10006
  • 185 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016
  • 199 Water St., New York, NY 10038
  • 222 Broadway 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
  • 300 Park Ave. 12th Floor, New York, NY 10022
  • 401 Park Ave. S. 10th Floor, New York, NY 10016
  • 500 7th Ave., New York, NY 10018
  • 524 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
  • 880 3rd Ave., New York, NY 10022
  • 1115 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
  • 1881 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
  • 1201 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98101
  • Bastion Collective LLC
  • We Company
  • WeWork
  • WeWork Companies, Inc.
  • WeWork Companies LLC
  • WeWork Management LLC

How Much Money Does JAMS Make from Its Relationship with WeWork?

JAMS has thus far dismissed any concerns about impartiality or failure to disclose in WeWork cases without providing the data requested. A representative for JAMS stated that the company “administers approximately 15,000 cases per year” and “no single party or law firm significantly impacts JAMS’ total revenue.” The millions of dollars flowing to JAMS from WeWork provides a natural incentive for JAMS to continue ruling favorably for WeWork – which is easy because it is the same “Membership Agreement” being interpreted in each arbitration. Moreover, since JAMS and WeWork refuse to share with small business defendants any relevant information about past rulings, the small businesses remain unaware of the full nature of the WeWork-JAMS relationship. The small businesses will then fight the arbitration and pay JAMS even more fees, only to inevitably lose in front of a JAMS-provided arbitrator. There is no reason for JAMS to be fair because it is not in their financial interests.

JAMS would appear to have an incentive to rule in WeWork’s favor not just because of the many disputes they are currently arbitrating, but also because of all the future business that WeWork will continue to send their way. In other words, JAMS may want to keep WeWork happy because JAMS collects fees on every arbitration, and WeWork sends them a lot of business that generates fees.

Contact the California Business Fraud Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP

Are you a small business owner who is being pursued by WeWork through JAMS? If so, you may have a possible legal claim against both WeWork and JAMS. WeWork uses JAMS to arbitrate legal disputes, and it is believed that WeWork has never lost a JAMS-administered dispute. You can schedule a free consultation with the California business fraud lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP by calling or sending an email.