May 12, 2014 at 7:12 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has settled a price gouging lawsuit with East Hanover Amoco Inc., doing business as "C&M Exxon", after the gas station was alleged to have overcharged customers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012.
"New Jersey families were in dire need of shelter and fuel, and price gouging was expressly prohibited due to a state of emergency,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
The Divisions of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Law have already resolved 21 of the 27 lawsuits filed against businesses accused of price gouging during the Superstorm Sandy state of emergency. A total of $906,158.68 in civil penalties has been collected to date, including consumer restitution and reimbursement of fees and investigative costs.
C&M Exxon, located at at 29 Ridgedale Avenue, East Hanover, will pay $26,000, including $22,946 in civil penalties and $3,054 to reimburse the State’s attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.
The original complaint said the station was charging as much as $4.79 for credit card sales of regular gasoline, an increase of 26.3 percent above its price prior to the state of emergency. They were also allegedly charging as much as $5.09 for credit card sales of premium gasoline, an increase of 34.2 percent.
Said Acting Director Steve Lee of the Division of Consumer Affairs, “New Jersey’s Superstorm Sandy price gougers need to learn that the penalties for violating the law will far outweigh any illicit gains from taking advantage of their fellow New Jerseyans. In these cases, we’re doing everything we can to bring full restitution to victims, and to deter any future attempts to take advantage of the suffering caused by a major disaster.”
According to the OAG, "New Jersey’s price gouging statute, N.J.S.A. 56:8-107 et seq., prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency, for merchandise used as a direct result of an emergency or used to protect the life, health, safety, or comfort of persons or their property. The law defines excessive price increases as more than 10 percent above the price at which the merchandise was sold during the normal course of business during the state of emergency. If a merchant incurs additional costs during the state of emergency, prices may not exceed 10 percent above the normal markup from cost."