Social Distancing Requirements for Onsite Lemon Law Arbitration Hearings
(Will remain in place until further notice)
Until Further Notice, Lemon Law Hearings will be restricted to the Atlanta Consumer Protection Division Office (2 MLK Jr Dr., Suite 356-East, Atlanta, GA 30334). Parties opting for onsite hearings will be required to comply with the following protocols:
- Outside of the staff, Panel Representatives and Arbitrators, office entrance is limited to parties and prior identified counsel, representatives, and/or witnesses with a scheduled Arbitration Hearing that same day. Guests will NOT be accommodated. Parties may enter the building, but may not expect to enter the office until 10 minutes prior to the scheduled hearing start time.
- Parking will be restricted to the Public Parking Deck (Pete Hackney Deck - $10 Parking Fee)
- Before entering the office, each attendee’s temperature will be taken using a no-touch thermometer. Anyone with a temperature reading above 100.4°F will not be allowed entry. Upon entering the building, parties must report to the East Tower Security Desk and stand behind the blue line. Each party will be checked in by name and have a temperature reading recorded by laser thermometer. Panel Representatives will also be equipped with a hand-held laser thermometer. All attendees who must leave the hearing room after the hearing has begun will have their temperatures re-tested before being allowed reentry into the hearing room.
- Attendees displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be prohibited from entering the office.
- Each attendee will be asked and must be able to truthfully answer “No” to the following questions:
- Have you or anyone in your household been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past fourteen (14) days?
- Are you currently awaiting COVID-19 test results?
- Has anyone you have had close contact with in the past fourteen (14) days been diagnosed with COVID-19?
- Have you or anyone in your household been asked to self-quarantine by any hospital or health agency within the last fourteen (14) days?
- Are you currently sick or experiencing any acute respiratory illness symptoms including coughing, sore throat, sneezing, shortness of breath, fever, chills or flu-like symptoms?
- Are you currently experiencing any asymptomatic COVID-19 symptoms, including loss of your sense of taste or “COVID Toes”?
- Parties and/or counsel or party representatives (not accompanied by counsel) who arrive for the hearing and either fail the temperature check or display COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted entry into the office, but will not be considered to have failed to appear for the hearing. However, the hearing will be postponed until a later available hearing date. Witnesses and/or additional party representatives who arrive for the hearing and either fail the temperature check or display COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted entry into the office, however the hearing will proceed in their absence.
- All Attendees are expected to contact the Panel Representative immediately upon development of any COVID-19 symptoms or self-quarantine notifications occurring within fourteen (14) days prior to and after the scheduled hearing date.
- All individuals entering the office will be required to wear facial masks covering their mouths and noses and gloves throughout the duration of the hearing and in waiting areas. Surgical or N95 masks are preferred, but not required. Masks and gloves will not be provided, therefore parties must bring their own. Any party, counsel, party representative, and or witness arriving for the hearing without the required mask and gloves will not be allowed entry. Parties and/or counsel or party representatives (not accompanied by counsel) who arrive at the hearing without the required mask and gloves will not be allowed entry, will be considered to have failed to appear for the hearing, and the hearing will proceed in accordance with Rule 60-2-1-.27. Witnesses and/or additional party representatives who arrive for the hearing without the required mask and gloves will not be permitted entry into the office, and the hearing will proceed in their absence.
- Wherever possible, all attendees are expected to keep a minimum distance of six feet from each other. Except in special circumstances, hearing room occupancy will be restricted to no more than six (6) people at a time (including the Arbitrator and Panel Representative). No more than two (2) people per party will be allowed to participate in the hearing simultaneously. Parties requiring a larger number of attendees must notify the Panel Representative as far in advance as possible, but not less than ten (10) business days prior to the scheduled hearing date, to be accommodated.
- Witnesses and/or representatives not actively participating for the entirety of the hearing, will not be permitted to wait inside the office. They will be required to remain outside of the office until needed during the hearing. The witness(es)/representative(s) will be contacted by the Panel Representative via cellphone 5-10 minutes prior to the expected report time. Office entry protocol will be conducted once the witness(es)/representative(s) report to the office after being contacted. Once witness/representative testimony and questioning are complete, the witness(es)/representative(s) must immediately leave the office.
- At the close of the hearing, all parties, counsel, witnesses, and representatives must leave the office immediately.
- Wherever possible, the exchange of documentation during the hearing should be limited. As all documentation is already required to be submitted to the panel and all parties not later than five (5) days prior to the hearing, all parties should have had an opportunity to review all documents relevant to the case. The Panel Representative will have printed copies of all submitted materials for the Arbitrator’s use only. Parties are encouraged to bring electronic or printed copies of submitted materials for their own use.
- As social distancing is difficult inside the confines of most vehicles, wherever possible, requests for test drives during the hearing should be limited and are, as always, fully at the discretion of the Arbitrator pursuant to Rules 60-2-1-.29(1)(c) and 60-2-1-.31(8). Parties are encouraged to provide other means to present evidence (i.e.; video testimony, affidavits, witness testimony, etc.)
- These policies have been put in place for the safety of the Consumer Protection Division Staff, Arbitrators, parties, and guests alike. Failure to adhere to the social distancing guidelines during the arbitration hearing may result in the termination of the hearing and the Arbitrator rendering a decision based solely on evidence and testimony presented prior to termination.