This Employment Agreement involves
Title: EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT
Governing Law: Massachusetts Date: 8/11/2016
Industry: Biotechnology and Drugs Sector: Healthcare
This Employment Agreement (this “ Agreement ”), dated as of April 26, 2016, is made by and between Seres Therapeutics, Inc., a Delaware corporation (together with any successor thereto, the “ Company ”), and Thomas J. DesRosier (“ Executive ”) (collectively referred to as the “ Parties ” or individually referred to as a “ Party ”).
It is the desire of the Company to assure itself of the services of Executive by entering into this Agreement.
Executive and the Company mutually desire that Executive be employed by the Company on the terms herein provided, commencing on May 16, 2016 or another date mutually agreed by the Parties (the date Executive actually commences such employment, the “ Effective Date ”).
This Agreement will become effective upon the Effective Date.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing and of the respective covenants and agreements set forth below, the Parties hereto agree as follows:
1. Employment .
(a) General . Effective on the Effective Date, the Company shall employ Executive and Executive shall remain in the employ of the Company, for the period and in the positions set forth in this Section 1 , and subject to the other terms and conditions herein provided.
(b) At-Will Employment . The Company and Executive acknowledge that Executive’s employment is and shall continue to be at-will, as defined under applicable law, and that Executive’s employment with the Company may be terminated by either Party at any time for any or no reason (subject to the notice requirements of Section 3(b) ). This “at-will” nature of Executive’s employment shall remain unchanged during Executive’s tenure as an employee and may not be changed, except in an express writing signed by Executive and a duly authorized officer of the Company. If Executive’s employment terminates for any reason, Executive shall not be entitled to any payments, benefits, damages, award or compensation other than as provided in this Agreement or otherwise agreed to in writing by the Company or as provided by applicable law. The term of this Agreement (the “ Term ”) shall commence on the Effective Date and end on the date this Agreement is terminated under Section 3 .
(c) Positions and Duties . Executive shall serve as Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of the Company, reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of the Company, with such responsibilities, duties and authority normally associated with such positions and as may from time to time be assigned to Executive by the CEO of the Company. Executive shall devote substantially all of Executive’s working time and efforts to the
business and affairs of the Company (which shall include service to its affiliates, if applicable) and shall not engage in outside business activities (including serving on outside boards or committees) without the consent of the Board (as defined below), provided that Executive shall be permitted to (i) manage Executive’s personal, financial and legal affairs, (ii) participate in trade associations, and (iii) serve on the board of directors of not-for-profit or tax-exempt charitable organizations, in each case, subject to compliance with this Agreement and provided that such activities do not materially interfere with Executive’s performance of Executive’s duties and responsibilities hereunder. Executive agrees to observe and comply with the rules and policies of the Company as adopted by the Company from time to time, in each case as amended from time to time, as set forth in writing, and as delivered or made available to Executive (each, a “ Policy ”).
2. Compensation and Related Matters .
(a) Annual Base Salary . During the Term, Executive shall receive a base salary at a rate of $390,000 per annum, which shall be paid in accordance with the customary payroll practices of the Company and shall be pro-rated for partial years of employment. Such annual base salary shall be reviewed (and may be adjusted) from time to time by the Board of Directors of the Company or an authorized committee of the Board (in either case, the “ Board ”) (such annual base salary, as it may be adjusted from time to time, the “ Annual Base Salary ”).
(b) Bonus . During the Term, Executive will be eligible to participate in an annual incentive program established by the Board. Executive’s annual incentive compensation under such incentive program (the “ Annual Bonus ”) shall be targeted at 40% of Executive’s Annual Base Salary. The Annual Bonus payable under the incentive program shall be based on the achievement of performance goals to be determined by the Board. The payment of any Annual Bonus pursuant to the incentive program shall be subject to Executive’s continued employment with the Company through the date of payment, except as otherwise provided in Section 4(b) .
(c) Benefits . During the Term, Executive shall be eligible to participate in employee benefit plans, programs and arrangements of the Company (including medical, dental and 401(k) plans), consistent with the terms thereof and as such plans, programs and arrangements may be amended from time to time. In no event shall Executive be eligible to participate in any severance plan or program of the Company, except as set forth in Section 4 of this Agreement.
(d) Vacation . During the Term, Executive shall be entitled to paid personal leave in accordance with the Company’s Policies. Any vacation shall be taken at the reasonable and mutual convenience of the Company and Executive.
(e) Business Expenses . During the Term, the Company shall reimburse Executive for all reasonable travel and other business expenses incurred by Executive in the performance of Executive’s duties to the Company in accordance with the Company’s expense reimbursement Policy.
right to determine the amount of insurance and the type of policy. Executive shall reasonably cooperate with the Company in obtaining such insurance by submitting to physical examinations, by supplying all information reasonably required by any insurance carrier, and by executing all necessary documents reasonably required by any insurance carrier, provided that any information provided to an insurance company or broker shall not be provided to the Company without the prior written authorization of Executive. Executive shall incur no financial obligation by executing any required document, and shall have no interest in any such policy.
(g) Equity . Subject to approval by the Board, during the next regularly scheduled monthly approval date after the Effective Date, the Company will grant Executive an option (the “ Option ”) under the Company’s 2015 Incentive Award Plan (the “ Plan ”) to purchase 100,000 shares of the Company’s common stock (subject to adjustment for corporate events as set forth in the Plan) at an exercise price per share equal to the per share fair market value of the Company’s common stock on the date of grant, as determined in accordance with the Plan. The Option will vest as to 25% of the shares subject to the Option on the first anniversary of the Effective Date and as to an additional 6.25% of such shares upon Executive’s completing each three months of continuous service to the Company thereafter. In all respects, the Option will be governed by and subject to the terms of the Plan and a separate stock option agreement to be entered into between Executive and the Company.
3. Termination .
Executive’s employment hereunder may be terminated by the Company or Executive, as applicable, without any breach of this Agreement under the following circumstances:
(a) Circumstances .
(i) Death . Executive’s employment hereunder shall terminate upon Executive’s death.
(ii) Disability . If Executive has incurred a Disability, as defined below, the Company may terminate Executive’s employment.
(iii) Termination for Cause . The Company may terminate Executive’s employment for Cause, as defined below.
(iv) Termination without Cause . The Company may terminate Executive’s employment without Cause.
(v) Resignation from the Company for Good Reason. Executive may resign Executive’s employment with the Company for Good Reason, as defined below.
(vi) Resignation from the Company Without Good Reason . Executive may resign Executive’s employment with the Company for any reason other than Good Reason or for no reason.
(b) Notice of Termination . Any termination of Executive’s employment by the Company or by Executive under this Section 3 (other than termination pursuant to paragraph (a)(i)) shall be communicated by a written notice to the other Party hereto (i) indicating the specific termination provision in this Agreement relied upon, (ii) setting forth in reasonable detail the facts and circumstances claimed to provide a basis for termination of Executive’s employment under the provision so indicated, if applicable, and (iii) specifying a Date of Termination which, if submitted by Executive, shall be at least forty-five (45) days following the date of such notice (a “ Notice of Termination ”); provided, however , that in the event that Executive delivers a Notice of Termination to the Company, the Company may, in its sole discretion, change the Date of Termination to any date that occurs following the date of Company’s receipt of such Notice of Termination and is prior to the date specified in such Notice of Termination. A Notice of Termination submitted by the Company may provide for a Date of Termination on the date Executive receives the Notice of Termination, or any date thereafter elected by the Company in its sole discretion. The failure by the Company to set forth in the Notice of Termination any fact or circumstance which contributes to a showing of Cause shall not waive any right of the Company hereunder or preclude the Company from asserting such fact or circumstance in enforcing the Company’s rights hereunder.
(c) Company Obligations upon Termination . Upon termination of Executive’s employment pursuant to any of the circumstances listed in this Section 3 , Executive (or Executive’s estate) shall be entitled to receive the sum of: (i) the portion of Executive’s Annual Base Salary earned through the Date of Termination, but not yet paid to Executive; (ii) any expenses owed to Executive pursuant to Section 2(e) ; and (iii) any amount accrued and arising from Executive’s participation in, or benefits accrued under any employee benefit plans, programs or arrangements, which amounts shall be payable in accordance with the terms and conditions of such employee benefit plans, programs or arrangements (collectively, the “ Company Arrangements ”). Except as otherwise expressly required by law ( e.g. , COBRA) or as specifically provided herein, all of Executive’s rights to salary, severance, benefits, bonuses and other compensatory amounts hereunder (if any) shall cease upon the termination of Executive’s employment hereunder. In the event that Executive’s employment is terminated by the Company for any reason, Executive’s sole and exclusive remedy shall be to receive the payments and benefits described in this Section 3(c) or Section 4 , as applicable.
(d) Deemed Resignation . Upon termination of Executive’s employment for any reason, Executive shall be deemed to have resigned from all offices and directorships, if any, then held with the Company or any of its subsidiaries.
(a) Termination for Cause, or Termination Upon Death, Disability or Resignation from the Company Without Good Reason . If Executive’s employment shall terminate as a result of Executive’s death pursuant to Section 3(a)(i) or Disability pursuant to Section 3(a)(ii) , pursuant to Section 3(a)(iii) for Cause, or pursuant to Section 3(a)(vi) for Executive’s resignation from the Company without Good Reason, then Executive shall not be entitled to any severance payments or benefits, except as provided in Section 3(c) .
(b) Termination without Cause, or Resignation from the Company for Good Reason . If Executive’s employment terminates without Cause pursuant to Section 3(a)(iv) , or pursuant to Section 3(a)(v) due to Executive’s resignation for Good Reason, then, subject to Executive signing on or before the 21 st day following Executive’s Separation from Service (as defined below), and not revoking, a release of claims substantially in the form attached as Exhibit A to this Agreement (the “ Release ”), and Executive’s continued compliance with Section 5 , Executive shall receive, in addition to payments and benefits set forth in Section 3(c) , the following:
(i) an amount in cash equal to the Annual Base Salary, payable in the form of salary continuation in regular installments over the 12-month period following the date of Executive’s Separation from Service (the “ Severance Period ”) in accordance with the Company’s normal payroll practices;
(ii) to the extent unpaid as of the Date of Termination, an amount of cash equal to any Annual Bonus earned by Executive for the Company’s fiscal year prior to the fiscal year in which the Date of Termination occurs, as determined by the Board in its discretion based upon actual performance achieved, which Annual Bonus, if any, shall be paid to Executive in the fiscal year in which the Date of Termination occurs when bonuses for such prior fiscal year are paid in the ordinary course to actively employed senior executives of the Company; and
(iii) if Executive elects to receive continued medical, dental or vision coverage under one or more of the Company’s group healthcare plans pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, as amended (“ COBRA ”), the Company shall directly pay, or reimburse Executive for, the COBRA premiums for Executive and Executive’s covered dependents under such plans during the period commencing on Executive’s Separation from Service and ending upon the earliest of (X) the last day of the Severance Period, (Y) the date that Executive and/or Executive’s covered dependents become no longer eligible for COBRA or (Z) the date Executive becomes eligible to receive healthcare coverage from a subsequent employer (and Executive agrees to promptly notify the Company of such eligibility). Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the Company determines in its sole discretion that it cannot provide the foregoing benefit without potentially violating applicable law (including, without limitation, Section 2716 of the Public Health Service Act) or incurring an excise tax, the Company shall in lieu thereof provide to Executive a taxable monthly payment in an amount equal to the monthly COBRA premium that Executive would be required to pay to continue
Executive’s and Executive’s covered dependents’ group health coverage in effect on the Date of Termination (which amount shall be based on the premium for the first month of COBRA coverage), less the amount Executive would have had to pay to receive group health coverage for Executive and his or her covered dependents based on the cost sharing levels in effect on the Date of Termination, which payments shall be made regardless of whether Executive elects COBRA continuation coverage and shall commence in the month following the month in which the Date of Termination occurs and shall end on the earlier of (X) the last day of the Severance Period, (Y) the date that Executive and/or Executive’s covered dependents become no longer eligible for COBRA or (Z) the date Executive becomes eligible to receive healthcare coverage from a subsequent employer (and Executive agrees to promptly notify the Company of such eligibility).
(c) Change in Control . Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in Section 4(b) , in the event Executive’s employment terminates without Cause pursuant to Section 3(a)(iv) , or pursuant to Section 3(a)(v) due to Executive’s resignation for Good Reason, in either case, within 60 days prior to or 12 months following the date of a Change in Control, subject to Executive signing on or before the 21 st day following Executive’s Separation from Service, and not revoking, the Release, all unvested equity or equity-based awards held by Executive under any Company equity compensation plans that vest solely based on the passage of time shall immediately become 100% vested (for the avoidance of doubt, with any such awards that vest in whole or in part based on the attainment of performance-vesting conditions being governed by the terms of the applicable award agreement).
(d) Survival . Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, the provisions of Sections 5 through 9 will survive the termination of Executive’s employment and the termination of the Term.
5. Restrictive Covenants . As a condition to the effectiveness of this Agreement, Executive will execute and deliver to the Company prior to the Effective Date the Employee Non-Competition, Non-Solicitation, Confidentiality and Assignment Agreement attached as Exhibit B (the “ Proprietary Information Agreement ”). Executive agrees to abide by the terms of the Proprietary Information Agreement, which are hereby incorporated by reference into this Agreement. Executive acknowledges that the provisions of the Proprietary Information Agreement will survive the termination of Executive’s employment and the termination of the Term for the periods set forth in the Proprietary Information Agreement.
6. Assignment and Successors .
The Company may assign its rights and obligations under this Agreement to any of its affiliates or to any successor to all or substantially all of the business or the assets of the Company (by merger or otherwise), and may assign or encumber this Agreement and its rights hereunder as security for indebtedness of the Company and its affiliates. This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the Company, Executive and their respective successors, assigns, personnel and legal representatives, executors, administrators, heirs, distributees, devisees, and legatees, as applicable. None of Executive’s rights or obligations may
be assigned or transferred by Executive, other than Executive’s rights to payments hereunder, which may be transferred only by will or operation of law. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Executive shall be entitled, to the extent permitted under applicable law and applicable Company Arrangements, to select and change a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive compensation hereunder following Executive’s death by giving written notice thereof to the Company.
7. Certain Definitions .
(a) Cause . The Company shall have “Cause” to terminate Executive’s employment hereunder upon:
(i) Executive’s failure to (A) substantially perform Executive’s duties with the Company (other than any such failure resulting from Executive’s Disability) or (B) comply with, in any material respect, any of the Company’s Policies;
(ii) the Board’s determination that Executive failed in any material respect to carry out or comply with any lawful and reasonable directive of the Board;
(iii) Executive’s breach of a material provision of this Agreement;
(iv) Executive’s conviction, plea of no contest, plea of nolo contendere , or imposition of unadjudicated probation for any felony or crime involving moral turpitude;
(v) Executive’s unlawful use (including being under the influence) or possession of illegal drugs on the Company’s (or any of its affiliate’s) premises or while performing Executive’s duties and responsibilities under this Agreement; or
(vi) Executive’s commission of an act of fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation, willful misconduct, or breach of fiduciary duty against the Company or any of its affiliates.
(b) Change in Control . “Change in Control” shall have the meaning set forth in the version of the Seres Therapeutics, Inc. 2015 Incentive Award Plan in effect on the Effective Date.
(c) Code . “Code” shall mean the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and the regulations and guidance promulgated thereunder.
(d) Date of Termination . “Date of Termination” shall mean (i) if Executive’s employment is terminated by Executive’s death, the date of Executive’s death; or (ii) if Executive’s employment is terminated pursuant to Section 3(a)(ii) – (vi) either the date indicated in the Notice of Termination or the date specified by the Company pursuant to Section 3(b) , whichever is earlier.
(e) Disability . “Disability” shall mean, at any time the Company or any of its affiliates sponsors a long-term disability plan for the Company’s employees, “disability” as defined in such long-term disability plan for the purpose of determining a participant’s eligibility
for benefits, provided, however , if the long-term disability plan contains multiple definitions of disability, “Disability” shall refer to that definition of disability which, if Executive qualified for such disability benefits, would provide coverage for the longest period of time. The determination of whether Executive has a Disability shall be made by the person or persons required to make disability determinations under the long-term disability plan. At any time the Company does not sponsor a long-term disability plan for its employees, “Disability” shall mean Executive’s inability to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation, the essential functions of Executive’s positions hereunder for a total of three months during any six-month period as a result of incapacity due to mental or physical illness as determined by a physician selected by the Company or its insurers and acceptable to Executive or Executive’s legal representative, with such agreement as to acceptability not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed. Any refusal by Executive to submit to a medical examination for the purpose of determining Disability shall be deemed to constitute conclusive evidence of Executive’s Disability.
(f) Good Reason . For the sole purpose of determining Executive’s right to severance payments and benefits as described above, Executive’s resignation will be for “Good Reason” if Executive resigns within ninety days after any of the following events, unless Executive consents to the applicable event: (i) a decrease in Executive’s Annual Base Salary, other than a reduction in Annual Base Salary of less than 10% that is implemented in connection with a contemporaneous reduction in annual base salaries affecting other senior executives of the Company, (ii) a material decrease in Executive’s authority or areas of responsibility as are commensurate with Executive’s title or positions, or (iii) the relocation of Executive’s primary office to a location more than 50 miles from the Boston metropolitan area. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no Good Reason will have occurred unless and until Executive has: (a) provided the Company, within 60 days of Executive’s knowledge of the occurrence of the facts and circumstances underlying the Good Reason event, written-notice stating with specificity the applicable facts and circumstances underlying such finding of Good Reason; and (b) provided the Company with an opportunity to cure the same within 30 days after the receipt of such notice.
8. Parachute Payments .
(a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Agreement, in the event that any payment or benefit by the Company or otherwise to or for the benefit of Executive, whether paid or payable or distributed or distributable pursuant to the terms of this Agreement or otherwise (all such payments and benefits, including the payments and benefits under Section 4(b) and Section 4(c) hereof, being hereinafter referred to as the “ Total Payments ”), would be subject (in whole or in part) to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Code (the “ Excise Tax ”), then the Total Payments shall be reduced (in the order provided in Section 8(b) ) to the minimum extent necessary to avoid the imposition of the Excise Tax on the Total Payments, but only if (i) the net amount of such Total Payments, as so reduced (and after subtracting the net amount of federal, state and local income and employment taxes on such reduced Total Payments and after taking into account the phase out of itemized deductions and personal exemptions attributable to such reduced Total Payments), is greater than or equal to (ii) the net amount of such Total Payments without such reduction (but after subtracting the net amount of federal, state and local
income and employment taxes on such Total Payments and the amount of the Excise Tax to which Executive would be subject in respect of such unreduced Total Payments and after taking into account the phase out of itemized deductions and personal exemptions attributable to such unreduced Total Payments).
(b) The Total Payments shall be reduced in the following order: (i) reduction on a pro-rata basis of any cash severance payments that are exempt from Section 409A of the Code (“ Section 409A ”), (ii) reduction on a pro-rata basis any non-cash severance payments or benefits that are exempt from Section 409A, (iii) reduction on a pro-rata basis of any other payments or benefits that are exempt from Section 409A, and (iv) reduction of any payments or benefits otherwise payable to Executive on a pro-rata basis or such other manner that complies with Section 409A; provided, in case of clauses (ii), (iii) and (iv), that reduction of any payments attributable to the acceleration of vesting of Company equity awards shall be first applied to Company equity awards that would otherwise vest last in time.
(c) All determinations regarding the application of this Section 8 shall be made by an accounting firm or consulting group with experience in performing calculations regarding the applicability of Section 280G of the Code and the Excise Tax selected by the Company (the “ Independent Advisors ”). For purposes of determinations, no portion of the Total Payments shall be taken into account which, in the opinion of the Independent Advisors, (i) does not constitute a “parachute payment” within the meaning of Section 280G(b)(2) of the Code (including by reason of Section 280G(b)(4)(A) of the Code) or (ii) constitutes reasonable compensation for services actually rendered, within the meaning of Section 280G(b)(4)(B) of the Code, in excess of the “base amount” (as defined in Section 280G(b)(3) of the Code) allocable to such reasonable compensation. The costs of obtaining such determination and all related fees and expenses (including related fees and expenses incurred in any later audit) shall be borne by the Company.
(d) In the event it is later determined that a greater reduction in the Total Payments should have been made to implement the objective and intent of this Section 8 , the excess amount shall be returned immediately by Executive to the Company.
9. Miscellaneous Provisions .
(a) Governing Law . This Agreement shall be governed, construed, interpreted and enforced in accordance with its express terms, and otherwise in accordance with the substantive laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without reference to the principles of conflicts of law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or any other jurisdiction, and where applicable, the laws of the United States.
(b) Validity . The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision or provisions of this Agreement shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision of this Agreement, which shall remain in full force and effect.
writing and delivered personally or sent by facsimile or certified or registered mail, postage prepaid, as follows:
(i) If to the Company, the Chief Financial Officer at its headquarters,
(ii) If to Executive, at the last address that the Company has in its personnel records for Executive, or
(iii) at any other address as any Party shall have specified by notice in writing to the other Party.
(d) Counterparts . This Agreement may be executed in several counterparts, each of which shall be deemed to be an original, but all of which together will constitute one and the same Agreement. Signatures delivered by facsimile shall be deemed effective for all purposes.
(e) Entire Agreement . The terms of this Agreement, and the Proprietary Information Agreement incorporated herein by reference as set forth in Section 5 , are intended by the Parties to be the final expression of their agreement with respect to the subject matter hereof and supersede all prior understandings and agreements, whether written or oral . The Parties further intend that this Agreement shall constitute the complete and exclusive statement of their terms and that no extrinsic evidence whatsoever may be introduced in any judicial, administrative, or other legal proceeding to vary the terms of this Agreement.
(f) Amendments; Waivers . This Agreement may not be modified, amended, or terminated except by an instrument in writing, signed by Executive and a duly authorized officer of Company. By an instrument in writing similarly executed, Executive or a duly authorized officer of the Company may waive compliance by the other Party with any specifically identified provision of this Agreement that such other Party was or is obligated to comply with or perform; provided , however , that such waiver shall not operate as a waiver of, or estoppel with respect to, any other or subsequent failure. No failure to exercise and no delay in exercising any right, remedy, or power hereunder preclude any other or further exercise of any other right, remedy, or power provided herein or by law or in equity.
(g) No Inconsistent Actions . The Parties hereto shall not voluntarily undertake or fail to undertake any action or course of action inconsistent with the provisions or essential intent of this Agreement. Furthermore, it is the intent of the Parties hereto to act in a fair and reasonable manner with respect to the interpretation and application of the provisions of this Agreement.
(h) Construction . This Agreement shall be deemed drafted equally by both the Parties. Its language shall be construed as a whole and according to its fair meaning. Any presumption or principle that the language is to be construed against any Party shall not apply. The headings in this Agreement are only for convenience and are not intended to affect construction or interpretation. Any references to paragraphs, subparagraphs, sections or subsections are to those parts of this Agreement, unless the context clearly indicates to the contrary. Also, unless the context clearly indicates to the contrary, (i) the plural includes the singular and the singular includes the plural; (ii) “and” and “or” are each used both conjunctively
and disjunctively; (iii) “any,” “all,” “each,” or “every” means “any and all,” and “each and every”; (iv) “includes” and “including” are each “without limitation”; (v) “herein,” “hereof,” “hereunder” and other similar compounds of the word “here” refer to the entire Agreement and not to any particular paragraph, subparagraph, section or subsection; and (vi) all pronouns and any variations thereof shall be deemed to refer to the masculine, feminine, neuter, singular or plural as the identity of the entities or persons referred to may require.
(i) Arbitration . Any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement, shall be settled solely and exclusively by a binding arbitration process administered by JAMS/Endispute in Boston, Massachusetts. Such arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the then-existing JAMS/Endispute Rules of Practice and Procedure, with the following exceptions if in conflict: (i) one arbitrator who is a retired judge shall be chosen by JAMS/Endispute; (ii) each Party to the arbitration will pay one-half of the expenses and fees of the arbitrator, together with other expenses of the arbitration incurred or approved by the arbitrator; and (iii) arbitration may proceed in the absence of any Party if written notice (pursuant to the JAMS/Endispute rules and regulations) of the proceedings has been given to such Party. Each Party shall bear its own attorney’s fees and expenses; provided that the arbitrator may assess the prevailing Party’s fees and costs against the non-prevailing Party as part of the arbitrator’s award. The Parties agree to abide by all decisions and awards rendered in such proceedings. Such decisions and awards rendered by the arbitrator shall be final and conclusive. All such controversies, claims or disputes shall be settled in this manner in lieu of any action at law or equity; provided, however , th