Hurricane Ike price-gouging suit settled
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has agreed to a $2.275 million settlement with Morgan Stanley Capital Group, Inc., over allegations of fuel price gouging.
The settlement comes on the heels of a six-month investigation in which 16 oil terminal operations in the state were subpoenaed for sales records. Fuel prices had risen by $1.60 a gallon after Hurricane Ike in September.
Shortly after the price hike, the state received thousands of complaints from customers to both McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson's offices.
Under the terms of the settlement, Morgan Stanley, one of the states's largest wholesale fuel suppliers, and its subsidiary TransMontaigne have agreed to reimburse the state $125,000 for civil penalties and $650,000 for unjust enrichment due to raising gas prices during a state of emergency.
Both companies will also reimburse the state $1.5 million for legal fees, as well as fund future consumer protection programs.
"Price gouging victimizes people already dealing with a disaster, and big business needs to be held accountable for any involvement in this behavior," McCollum said.
"I appreciate Morgan Stanley's efforts to resolve this matter and set a high standard for the rest of the fuel suppliers in the state."
Because no gasoline retailers were a part of the investigation, consumer reimbursement was not listed under the terms of the settlement.
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