Settlement reached over allegations of gas price gouging in Va.

Mims

RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) - An Appomattox County gas station has agreed to a settlement with Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims stemming from raised prices for gasoline following a declaration of a state of emergency prior to Hurricane Ike.

Pamplin Exxon Service Center, Inc., was alleged to have violated the
Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act by charging unconscionable prices for gasoline following Governor Kaine's state of emergency declaration on Sept. 10, 2008, as Hurricane Ike made its way towards the Gulf Coast.

"Virginia's Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act leaves room for standard market forces to work in times of disaster and prohibits only the charging of unconscionable prices for necessary goods and services during those rare times," Mims said.

"I am hopeful that our seventh price gouging settlement will send the message that we intend to enforce our statute. We will continue to do so in a reasonable and fair manner."

Mims alleged that Pamplin Exxon's gasoline prices on Sept. 12, 2008, grossly exceeded the prices the station had charged over the previous 10 days.

Pamplin Exxon is alleged to have changed its price charged for regular gasoline to $4.699 and $4.999, its mid-grade price to $4.799 and $5.099,and its premium gasoline prices to $4.899 and $5.259. The $4.999 price for regular gasoline represented a 37.8 percent increase over the Sept. 8, 2008 price of $3.620.

Under the settlement, Pamplin Exxon is enjoined from engaging in any
practices alleged to have violated the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Pamplin Exxon is also required to set aside $500 for consumer restitution and pay $1,250 to reimburse the State for its costs, expenses and attorneys fees in the case. An additional $500 must also paid to the Salvation Army for disaster relief purposes in lieu of a payment of civil penalties.

Pamplin Exxon is also required by the settlement to provide its customers notice that they may be eligible for restitution by posting signs on its front door and on each individual gas pump. It must also identify credit and debit card customers who purchased gasoline at the increased prices and credit a refund to their credit or debit cards for the appropriate amount of the overcharge.

More Stories