Additional N.J. Sandy Settlements

More gas stations among business that pay penalties over price gouging

Published in CSP Daily News

John Hoffman

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and its Divisions of Consumer Affairs & Law have reached settlements with another nine companies alleged to have price-gouged customers following Superstorm Sandy, acting attorney general John J. Hoffman said.

Under terms of these settlements, the state will obtain $437,538 in penalties, fees and consumer restitution.

To date, 18 of the 27 lawsuits filed by the Office of the Attorney General against businesses alleged to have engaged in price gouging during the state of emergency declared for Superstorm Sandy by Governor Chris Christie have been resolved.

With the eight most recent consent settlements and one judgment announced mow, the state will obtain $816,313 in civil penalties, consumer restitution and reimbursement of its attorneys' fees and investigative costs.

The Division of Consumer Affairs received more than 2,000 consumer complaints about alleged price gouging by gas stations, hotels and other businesses immediately following the state of emergency declared on Oct. 27, 2012.

Gas stations:

  • Alen Service Corp., dba Lukoil gas station, Newark, will pay the state a total of $30,000, including $9,179.42 in civil penalties and $20,820.58 for reimbursement of its attorneys' fees and investigative costs. An additional $7,500 civil penalty is suspended but will become payable if violations occur during the next year.
  • Empire Oil LLC, dba Delta gas station, North Bergen, will pay $18,000 in civil penalties to the state. An additional $36,400 penalty is suspended, but will become payable if violations occur during the next three years.
  • Jenny's Shell Station LLC, Bloomfield, will pay $40,000, which includes $33,535.87 in civil penalties and $6,464.13 in attorneys' fees and costs.
  • Vinny Fuel Corp, dba Delta gas station, Bloomfield, will pay $15,000 in civil penalties to the state. An additional $6,927.44 penalty is suspended but will become payable if violations occur during the next two years.

In addition, the court granted the state's motion for summary judgment against Perth Amboy NJPO LLC, dba BP, Perth Amboy. The court has ordered payment of $69,929.52, comprised of $51,859.52 in civil penalties and $18,070.00 in attorneys' fees and costs.

New Jersey's price gouging law prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency or for 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency. Excessive price increases are defined as more than 10% higher than the price at which merchandise was sold during the normal course of business prior to the state of emergency. If a merchant incurs additional costs during the state of emergency, prices may not exceed 10% above the normal markup from cost.

Keywords: 
fuel prices