NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the State Division of Consumer Affairs have filed suit against another gas station operator, alleging that he excessively raised prices during the declared state of emergency for Hurricane Sandy and illegally gouged consumers.
The filing is among the third group of lawsuits brought by the AG and Consumer Affairs following investigations of complaints filed by consumers. The State has filed suit against a total of 24 New Jersey businesses--13 hotels/motels and 11 gas stations--for alleged price gouging in connection with the storm.
Jeffrey Chiesa(See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)
Ali Syed Gas Inc., dba Gulf, Hackensack, N.J., allegedly increased the price for regular gasoline by 17.6% ($3.40 per gallon to $4 per gallon), the price of premium gas by 28% ($3.90 per gallon to $4.10 per gallon), and the price of diesel fuel by 29% ($3.88 per gallon to $4.10 per gallon) during the declared state of emergency.
The State is seeking restitution for consumers, imposition of civil penalties ranging up to $10,000 for an initial offense and up to $20,000 for each subsequent offense, and reimbursement of its investigative and legal costs.
New Jersey's price gouging statute 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 faces additional costs during the emergency, prices may not exceed 10% above the normal markup from cost.