Amended Terms and Conditions of Service
Effective Date: July 1, 2012
NOTICE OF AMENDED TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
WITH BINDING ARBITRATION
The following constitutes an amendment to Georgia Natural Gas' ("GNG") Terms and Conditions of Service. By receiving or continuing to receive service from GNG, you, the customer, agree to be bound by this amendment to GNG's Terms and Conditions of Service, effective July 1, 2012, which provide for Binding Arbitration of Disputes. All other provisions of the current Terms and Conditions of Service remain in full force and effect.
If you have a Dispute (as defined below) with GNG that cannot be resolved informally, you and GNG must arbitrate that Dispute in accord with the terms of this Arbitration Provision instead of litigating the Dispute in court, except for small claims as provided below. Arbitration means that you will have a fair hearing before a neutral, independent arbitrator instead of in a court by a judge or jury. The decision of the arbitrator will be final and binding. Nothing in this Arbitration Provision affects your right to file a complaint with the Georgia Public Service Commission ("PSC") regarding GNG's service or charges.
BY ACCEPTING SERVICE OR CONTINUING TO RECEIVE SERVICE FROM GNG YOU HAVE AGREED TO RESOLVE ALL DISPUTES (EXCEPT FOR THE PSC AND SMALL CLAIMS AS PROVIDED BELOW) THROUGH BINDING ARBITRATION BY THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION AND YOU HAVE WAIVED THE RIGHT TO FILE AN ACTION IN COURT.
As used in this Arbitration Provision, the term "Dispute" means any dispute, claim, or controversy between you and GNG regarding any aspect of your relationship with GNG, including gas service provided by GNG, that has arisen or that may arise in the future, whether based in contract, statute, regulation, ordinance, tort (including, but not limited to, fraud, misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, negligence, or any other intentional tort), or any other legal or equitable theory. The term "Dispute" also includes any dispute regarding whether a particular controversy is subject to arbitration, including any claim as to the enforceability of this Arbitration Provision. "Dispute" is to be given the broadest possible meaning that will be enforced. As used in this Arbitration Provision, "GNG" means SouthStar Energy Services LLC and its officers, directors, employees, members, affiliates and agents and any other party that you may contend is jointly or severally liable with any of the foregoing parties.
3. Informal Dispute Resolution
Most customer concerns can be resolved quickly and informally. If you have a complaint or a Dispute with GNG you can call our Customer Care Center at 770-850-6200 (inside metro Atlanta) or 1-877-850-6200 (outside metro Atlanta), or write to us at P.O. Box 440667, Kennesaw, Georgia 30160-9512, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your service address and GNG account number. If you are unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, you may also contact the Georgia Public Service Commission.
In the unlikely event that GNG or the PSC are unable to resolve a complaint or Dispute to your satisfaction (or if GNG has not been able to resolve a Dispute it has with you after attempting to do so informally), we each agree to resolve all Disputes through binding arbitration by the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") or, if it is a claim for $15,000 or less, in Magistrate Court. Any arbitration or Magistrate Court action will be on an individual basis only; class arbitrations and class actions are not permitted.
4. Initiation of Arbitration Proceeding/Selection of Arbitrator
(a) Notice of Dispute
A party who intends to seek arbitration (whether they have tried to resolve the Dispute informally or not) must first send to the other, by certified mail, a written Notice of Dispute ("Notice"). The Notice to GNG should be addressed to: Georgia Natural Gas c/o Rogers & Hardin LLP, 2700 International Tower, Peachtree Center, 229 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-1601 ("Notice Address"). The Notice must (a) describe the nature and basis of the claim or Dispute; and (b) set forth the specific relief sought ("Demand"). If GNG and you do not reach an agreement to resolve the Dispute within 30 days after the Notice is received, you or GNG may commence an arbitration proceeding. The arbitration will be governed by the AAA Commercial Dispute Resolution Procedures and the Supplementary Procedures for Consumer-Related Disputes, except as modified by these T&Cs. During the arbitration, the amount of any settlement offer made by GNG or by you shall not be disclosed to the arbitrator until after the arbitrator determines the amount, if any, to which you or GNG is entitled. The Notice form is available on GNG's website (www.onlygng.com) or by calling 770-850-6200 (inside metro Atlanta) or 1-877-850-6200 (outside metro Atlanta).
(b) Commencement of Arbitration
You may initiate arbitration by filing a Claim Form with the AAA and by sending a copy of the Claim Form to GNG at the address set forth in Section 4 (a) above. The form is available on the AAA website (www.adr.org), on GNG's website (www.onlygng.com) or by calling 770-907-4231 (inside metro Atlanta) or 1-877-427-4321 (outside metro Atlanta). You can complete the Claim Form on the AAA website or you can mail the Claim Form to AAA Case Filing Services, 1101 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 100, Voorhees, New Jersey 08403, with a copy to GNG. You do not need to send payment to the AAA. Upon receipt of the Claim Form, GNG will pay the required Arbitration filing fee.
5. Arbitration Procedures
The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), not state arbitration law, will govern the arbitrability of all Disputes. However, applicable federal law or Georgia law may apply to and govern the substance of any Disputes. Any state statutes pertaining to arbitration shall not be applicable under this Arbitration Provision.
If there is a conflict between this Arbitration Provision and the AAA rules, this Arbitration Provision shall govern. If the AAA will not enforce this Arbitration Provision as written, it cannot serve as the arbitration organization to resolve your dispute with GNG. If this situation arises, the parties shall agree on a substitute arbitration organization. If the parties are unable to agree, the parties shall mutually petition a court of appropriate jurisdiction to appoint an arbitration organization that will enforce this Arbitration Provision as written. GNG will bear the costs and attorneys' fees associated with such a petition. If there is a conflict between this Arbitration Provision and the rest of these T&Cs, this Arbitration Provision shall govern.
A single arbitrator chosen by the AAA will resolve the Dispute. You should know that participating in arbitration may result in limited discovery. The arbitrator will honor claims of privilege recognized by law and will take reasonable steps to protect customer account information and other confidential or proprietary information.
The arbitrator will make any award in writing but need not provide a statement of reasons unless requested by a party. An award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction over the parties for purposes of enforcement.
6. Waiver of Class Actions
ALL PARTIES TO THE ARBITRATION MUST BE INDIVIDUALLY NAMED. THERE SHALL BE NO RIGHT OR AUTHORITY FOR ANY CLAIMS TO BE ARBITRATED OR LITIGATED ON A CLASS ACTION OR CONSOLIDATED BASIS OR ON BASES INVOLVING CLAIMS BROUGHT IN A PURPORTED REPRESENTATIVE CAPACITY ON BEHALF OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC (SUCH AS A PRIVATE ATTORNEY GENERAL), OTHER RECIPIENTS OF GAS SERVICES FROM GNG, OR OTHER PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED. YOU ALSO AGREE NOT TO PARTICIPATE AS A CLASS MEMBER IN ANY SUCH PROCEEDING.
7. Location of Arbitration
The arbitration will take place in the county where you are billed. If the amount of the claim is $10,000 or less you may choose whether the arbitration takes place in person, by telephone or on written submissions. If the amount of the claim is more than $10,000 the type of hearing shall be determined by the AAA rules.
8. Payment of Arbitration Fees and Costs
GNG WILL PAY ALL ARBITRATION FILING FEES AND ARBITRATOR'S COSTS. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL ADDITIONAL COSTS THAT YOU INCUR IN THE ARBITRATION, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ATTORNEY'S FEES (IF YOU CHOOSE TO BE REPRESENTED BY AN ATTORNEY) AND EXPERT WITNESS FEES. YOU SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO REIMBURSE GNG FOR THE FILING FEES AND ARBITRATION COSTS PAID BY IT UNLESS THE ARBITRATOR DETERMINES THAT YOUR CLAIM WAS FRIVOLOUS. NOTWITHSTANDING ANYTHING TO THE CONTRARY IN THIS ARBITRATION PROVISION, GNG WILL PAY ALL FEES AND COSTS THAT IT IS REQUIRED BY LAW TO PAY, INCLUDING PAYMENT OF YOUR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND LITIGATION COSTS IF REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW. IN ADDITION, IF THE ARBITRATION AWARD IS GREATER THAN GNG'S LAST SETTLEMENT OFFER OR IF GNG DID NOT MAKE A SETTLEMENT OFFER, GNG WILL PAY TWICE THE AMOUNT OF YOUR ATTORNEY'S FEES, REIMBURSE THE EXPENSES REASONABLY INCURRED BY YOUR ATTORNEY IN PURSUING YOUR CLAIM AND A $7,500 MINIMUM RECOVERY, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, YOU MAY NOT RECOVER DUPLICATIVE AWARDS OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND EXPENSES. ALTHOUGH UNDER SOME LAWS GNG MAY HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND EXPENSES IF IT PREVAILS, GNG AGREES NOT TO SEEK SUCH AN AWARD.
9. Exclusion From Arbitration
You and GNG agree that where the amount at issue is a claim within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Court and is an individual as opposed to a class claim, you or GNG may elect to seek resolution of the Dispute in the Magistrate Court. You and GNG further agree that any appeal from the Magistrate Court, including a de novo appeal, shall be by binding arbitration pursuant to the provisions of this Section. Any such appeal shall be commenced by giving the Notice described in section 4(a). You may also file a complaint with the Georgia Public Service Commission.
This Arbitration Provision shall survive the termination of your gas service with GNG.