Miss. SC to hear AG's price-gouging appeal

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 16, 2010, 11:00am


JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) -- The Mississippi Supreme Court has decided it will take up the state Attorney General Office's appeal of a judge's ruling that Mississippi's price-gouging law is "unconstitutionally vague," according to The Associated Press.

Chancellor J. Max Kilpatrick rejected in 2008 Attorney General Jim Hood's lawsuit accusing an in-state oil company of overcharging for fuel following Hurricane Katrina.

The suit accused Louisville-based Fair Oil Co., along with another company, of gouging customers after the 2005 storm.

According to Mississippi law, during an emergency, goods and services should not cost more than what is ordinarily charged for comparable items "in the same market area at or immediately before the declaration of a state of emergency or local emergency."

Fair Oil took issue with the language of the law, but Hood contended it was clear.

In his 2008 ruling, the judge said portions of the law are not clear.

"It simply does not provide adequate notice as to the standards that potential violators in the oil industry will be judged by when faced with an investigation of their pricing methods during a state of emergency," he wrote in his opinion at the time.

After the hurricane struck, Hood said his office was overwhelmed with similar complaints.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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