NJ Court: Agreement To Arbitrate “Any Claims” Does Not Include Agreement To Arbitrate Statutory Claims

by:  Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher) (LinkedIn)

Arbitration (pd)In recent months I have written several times about the difficulty of enforcing arbitration agreements in New Jersey (e.g., here, here, and here). While the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark has some people confident that this will change, it hasn't yet. Instead, New Jersey courts continue to issue opinions demonstrating the uphill battle faced by parties trying to enforce contractual arbitration provisions. A recent unpublished Law Division opinion, Griffoul v. NRG Residential Solar Solutions, LLC, is the latest example.

In Griffoul, plaintiffs entered into a lease for a residential solar system. The lease contained a "broad form arbitration clause" in which plaintiffs agreed to arbitrate "any" claim "arising out of" or "in connection with" the lease, and agreed that, by entering into the lease, plaintiffs were waiving their right to a jury trial. The lease also contained a class action waiver provision, declaring that "each party may bring claims against the other only in its individual capacity and not as a plaintiff or a class member in any purported class or representative proceeding."

Nonetheless, just over three years after entering into the lease, plaintiffs filed a putative class action in state court. The complaint asserted the now-common one-two punch of claims under the Consumer Fraud Act ("CFA") and the Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act ("TCCWNA"). The CFA claims were based on alleged misrepresentations made by defendants in connection with the marketing of the solar energy system, and the TCCWNA claims were based on six provisions of the lease that plaintiffs claimed violated clearly established rights under New Jersey law. 

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Blinded By The Light: Act Quickly To Get Full Benefit Of New Jersey’s Solar Program

Lisa Bromberg and Tom Spiesman authored a recent update discussing the benefits of New Jersey's solar program: Solar Energy Use In New Jersey Can Provide More Than Just Energy Savings In 2011… It Can Become Energy Income!  Among other things, the update discusses how it might be possible to take advantage of grants, bonus depreciation and credits to generate income for you and your business.  But, you need to act quickly to get the full advantage of these benefits, because some are due to expire at the end of the year.  Check out the update for more details. 

Plant In Full Sun: New Jersey Continues To Foster The Growth Of Solar Power

by:    Jonathan M. Prince

Although negotiating its permitting process can be challenging, New Jersey has taken the lead in encouraging and fostering renewable energy projects.  The State’s current Energy Master Plan recognizes the strategic role that energy plays in both our economy and our environment.  Amongst the plan’s goals are the maximization of energy conservation and energy efficiency by making new and existing buildings more energy efficient and the encouragement of the generation of renewable energy, so that the energy produced to bridge the gap between supply and demand is created in such a manner as to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. 

To help meet the goals of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent and increasing the amount of renewable energy to 30 percent of energy consumption by the year 2020, New Jersey has put in place several aggressive renewable energy incentives and has quickly become one of the best places in the country for solar energy companies to do business.

The State has developed numerous programs to cultivate and promote the generation and utilization of renewable energy.  New Jersey's Clean Energy Program, which is administered by the State Board of Public Utilities, offers commercial and industrial customers an array of financial incentives and design support to integrate energy efficient and renewable energy technologies into new construction, renovations, and new cooling & heating equipment installations.  Chief among these programs is the New Jersey SmartStart Buildings Program.  This Program provides design support and financial incentives for qualifying measures, for large and small projects, including new commercial and industrial projects, renovating existing space and upgrading of equipment.  Financial incentives of up to $500,000 per year are available to help reduce the capital cost of energy efficient installations and upgrades.  These incentives were developed to help program participants offset some of the added cost to purchase qualifying energy-efficient equipment, including HVAC systems, lighting and lighting controls, water heating, and high efficiency motors, all of which can provide significant long-term energy savings.

Beyond Solar: New Jersey’s Commitment To Renewable Energy

Faced with an overburdened power grid, rising energy prices, and a distressed economy, New Jersey is moving forward with an ambitious plan to implement a state-of-the-art renewable energy infrastructure. The goal is cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy. At the same time, the state government hopes to fuel a much-needed economic recovery by creating new jobs that will be relevant for years to come. By being proactive, New Jersey has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in solar power development. However, while solar power gets most of the media attention, its large-scale production remains costly. Because of the high costs, New Jersey is currently promoting many other forms of renewable energy. The following is an overview of the various opportunities, beyond investment in solar power, available to New Jersey’s business community.

In the article Beyond Solar: New Jersey's Committment to Renewable Energy, Lisa Murtha Bromberg and Steven P. Gouin discuss the issues sorrounding solar energy and the other forms of renewable energy available to New Jersey companies.