(a) Any person who suffers injury or damages as a result of a violation of Chapter 5B of this title, as a result of consumer acts or practices in violation of this part, as a result of office supply transactions in violation of this part or whose business or property has been injured or damaged as a result of such violations may bring an action individually, but not in a representative capacity, against the person or persons engaged in such violations under the rules of civil procedure to seek equitable injunctive relief and to recover his or her general and exemplary damages sustained as a consequence thereof in any court having jurisdiction over the defendant; provided, however, exemplary damages shall be awarded only in cases of intentional violation. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, a debtor seeking equitable relief to redress an injury resulting from a violation of paragraph (20) of subsection (b) of Code Section 10-1-393 , upon facts alleged showing a likelihood of success on the merits, may not, within the discretion of the court, be required to make a tender. Nothing in this subsection or paragraph (20) of subsection (b) of Code Section 10-1-393 shall be construed to interfere with the obligation of the debtor to a lender who is not in violation of paragraph (20) of subsection (b) of Code Section 10-1-393 . A claim under this Code section may also be asserted as a defense, setoff, cross-claim, or counterclaim or third-party claim against such person.
(b) At least 30 days prior to the filing of any such action, a written demand for relief, identifying the claimant and reasonably describing the unfair or deceptive act or practice relied upon and the injury suffered, shall be delivered to any prospective respondent. Any person receiving such a demand for relief who, within 30 days of the delivering of the demand for relief, makes a written tender of settlement which is rejected by the claimant may, in any subsequent action, file the written tender and an affidavit concerning this rejection and thereby limit any recovery to the relief tendered if the court finds that the relief tendered was reasonable in relation to the injury actually suffered by the petitioner. The demand requirements of this subsection shall not apply if the prospective respondent does not maintain a place of business or does not keep assets within the state. The 30 day requirement of this subsection shall not apply to a debtor seeking a temporary restraining order to redress or prevent an injury resulting from a violation of paragraph (20) of subsection (b) of Code Section 10-1-393 , provided that said debtor gives, or attempts to give the written demand required by this subsection at least 24 hours in advance of the time set for the hearing of the application for the temporary restraining order. Such respondent may otherwise employ the provisions of this Code section by making a written offer of relief and paying the rejected tender into court as soon as practicable after receiving notice of an action commenced under this Code section. All written tenders of settlement such as described in this subsection shall be presumed to be offered without prejudice in compromise of a disputed matter.
(c) Subject to subsection (b) of this Code section, a court shall award three times actual damages for an intentional violation.
(d) If the court finds in any action that there has been a violation of this part, the person injured by such violation shall, in addition to other relief provided for in this Code section and irrespective of the amount in controversy, be awarded reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation incurred in connection with said action; provided, however, the court shall deny a recovery of attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation which are incurred after the rejection of a reasonable written offer of settlement made within 30 days of the mailing or delivery of the written demand for relief required by this Code section; provided, further, that, if the court finds the action continued past the rejection of such reasonable written offer of settlement in bad faith or for the purposes of harassment, the court shall award attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation to the adverse party. Any award of attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation shall become a part of the judgment and subject to execution as the laws of Georgia allow.
(e) Any manufacturer or supplier of merchandise whose act or omission, whether negligent or not, is the basis for action under this part shall be liable for the damages assessed against or suffered by retailers charged under this part. A claim of such liability may be asserted by cross-claim, third-party complaint, or by separate action.
(f) It shall not be a defense in any action under this part that others were, are, or will be engaged in like practices.
(g) In any action brought under this Code section the Attorney General shall be served by certified or registered mail or statutory overnight delivery with a copy of the initial complaint and any amended complaint within 20 days of the filing of such complaint. The Attorney General shall be entitled to be heard in any such action, and the court where such action is filed may enter an order requiring any of the parties to serve a copy of any other pleadings in an action upon the Attorney General.
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