AG files motions on apartment complex owners, gas company

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,259 views 

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin filed two motions on Friday (April 21) in cases involving a troubled apartment complex and a natural gas utility.

Griffin filed a contempt of court motion against the owners of Big Country Chateau, a south Little Rock apartment complex whose owners have failed to cooperate with a court-appointed received, according to the AG.

“Big Country Chateau and its New Jersey-based owners have repeatedly defied the court’s orders and are refusing to cooperate with the receiver. This is an insult to both our justice system and the tenants of Big Country Chateau, and my office is seeking to hold the owners in contempt of court and sanction them.”

On February 22, a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge appointed a receiver to pay Big Country Chateau’s bills and make repairs to the property in accordance with building codes. Tenants were paying their rent, which included utilities, but the owners have not been paying those bills, according to Griffin.

The appointment of the receiver in February included an order that defendants turn over records to the receiver. To date, the defendants have not complied with that order.

Griffin’s motion asks the court to compel the defendants to show cause as to why they have not complied with the order, and it asks the court to hold the defendants in contempt.

The Attorney General also filed a motion with the Arkansas Public Service Commission to block Summit Utilities, a natural gas provider, from resuming normal collections and disconnect policies.

Summit announced this week it would resume those normal functions in July after months of consumer complaints have been registered during the company’s transition period from its previous owner, Centerpoint Energy. Customers have complained about signficiantly higher bills, double-billings, and confusing statements.

“Today, I am filing a motion with the Public Service Commission opposing Summit’s plan to resume the charging of late fees and disconnecting gas service until the investigations are complete or until an alternative date set by the Public Service Commission based upon information gathered during the investigations. It is too soon to reinstitute late fees and shutoffs based upon what we know at this time,” he said.

“As the Public Service Commission investigation has just begun, Summit should not resume normal collections. We continue to investigate the complaints received from Arkansans regarding Summit and provide information to the Public Service Commission to assist in their investigation.”

Griffin said in March that his office had received more than 2,800 calls regarding a sharp increase in gas prices charged to consumers and problems with billings. He asked the PSC to investigate the company’s purchasing and billing practices, and potential violations of commission rules.

Attorney General Tim Griffin was a guest on this week’s edition of Capitol View and Talk Business & Politics to discuss the recent legislature, a pending ballot initiative to repeal the LEARNS Act, and other legal actions he’s taken since being sworn in on January 9th. You can watch his video below.