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Chisea Files Suits Alleging Storm Price Gouging

New Jersey has filed the first lawsuits for alleged price gouging stemming from Superstorm Sandy.

 

NJ Attorney General Jeff Chiesa
NJ Attorney General Jeff Chiesa announces the expansion of Project Medicine Drop (Townsquare Media)

Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa on Friday announced the state is suing seven gas stations and a hotel in northern New Jersey.

The gas stations are accused of raising pump prices anywhere from 17 to 59 percent higher during the state of emergency related to the storm.

The hotel is accused of raising room rates by 32 percent.

VIolators can be fined up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for a second offense.

The state’s Consumer Affairs Division has received nearly 2,000 complaints about alleged storm-related price gouging. Chiesa says about 83 percent of the complaints involve gas stations.

Chiesa says price complaints may subside, but other storm-related scams may increase.

The Attorney General’s lawsuits, filed by the Division of Law on behalf of the Division of

  • Kistruga, Inc., d/b/a Lukoil station, at 253 McBride Avenue, Paterson. This gas station is accused of raising the price of regular fuel from $3.45 to $5.50 per gallon, an increase of 59 percent, during the state of emergency.  On November 1 the business allegedly made approximately 230 sales of regular gasoline to consumers. The Division of Consumer Affairs received approximately 27 consumer complaints about this company.
  • C.S. George & Sons, Inc., d/b/a George’s Gulf station, at 387 Crooks Avenue, Clifton.  This gas station is accused of raising the price of regular gas from $3.49 to $4.69 per gallon, an increase of 34 percent, during the state of emergency.  The Division of Consumer Affairs received approximately 52 consumer complaints about this company.
  • Alen Service Corp., d/b/a Lukoil station, at 335 McCarter Highway, Newark.  This gas station is accused of raising the price of regular gas from $3.60 to $4.50 per gallon, an increase of 25 percent, during the state of emergency.  The business also allegedly raised the price of premium-grade gasoline by 25 percent, raised the price of plus-grade gasoline by 26 percent, and raised the price of diesel fuel by 31 percent, to $5.45 per gallon.  The Division of Consumer Affairs received approximately 21 consumer complaints about this company.
  • Vinny Fuel Corporation, d/b/a Delta Gas station, at 141 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield.  This gas station is accused of raising the price of regular gas from $3.19 to $3.99 per gallon, an increase of 25 percent, during the state of emergency.  The Division of Consumer Affairs received approximately six consumer complaints about this company.
  • Perth Amboy NJPO, LLC, d/b/a BP station at 163 Fayette Street, Perth Amboy. This gas station was accused by consumers of raising the price of regular fuel between 22 percent and 33 percent during the state of emergency.  It also allegedly raised the price of premium-grade gasoline by 12 percent, and the price of plus-grade gasoline by 13 percent, from October 31 to November 1.  The business has allegedly refused to provide receipts, records, and other documents that the Division of Consumer Affairs demanded by subpoena.  The Division of Consumer Affairs received approximately 19 consumer complaints about this company.
  • S&D LLC,d/b/a Exxon station, at 555 Riverside Avenue, Lyndhurst.  This gas station is accused of raising the price of regular fuel from $3.42 to $4.13 per gallon, an increase of 21 percent, during the state of emergency.  It also allegedly raised the price of supreme-grade gasoline by 14 percent.  The Division of Consumer Affairs received approximately 13 consumer complaints about this company.
  • Couto & Sons, Inc. d/b/a Sunoco station, at 69 Wilson Avenue, Newark.  This gas station is accused of raising the price of regular fuel from $3.80 to $4.46 per gallon, an increase of 17 percent, during the state of emergency.  It also allegedly raised the price of plus-grade, premium-grade, and ultra-grade fuel by 11 percent.  The gas station is also accused of increasing the prices for all four grades of fuel more than once per 24 hour period, in violation of the Motor Fuels Act.  The State’s complaint further notes that this gas station paid less per gallon for a shipment of fuel on November 1 than it paid for its most recent shipment prior to the state of emergency – indicating a decrease in the company’s costs, rather than an increase, after the storm.  The Division of Consumer Affairs received approximately 24 consumer complaints about this company.
  • Ratan Hospitality Group, LLC, d/b/a Howard Johnson Express at 625 Route 46 East, Parsippany.  This hotel is accused of raising its room prices up to 32 percent – to $119 per night, compared with the hotel’s highest room rate of $90 immediately prior to the state of emergency.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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