Joplin landlord sued by Mo. AG

Bryan Cohen Jul. 13, 2011, 1:00pm


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced on Wednesday that his office has filed suit against a Joplin, Mo., landlord for price gouging and other violations.

David Box, Jr., rents out apartments at Classic Townhouses and Northside Apartments. Following the May 22 tornado, Box allegedly notified tenants that their rent was being raised and required them to contact him with within three days or their rental unit could be rented to someone else.

Koster's office received complaints from 13 renters who received notice from Box. In one alleged incident, a renter was notified that his rent would increase 25 percent, from $475 per month to $595 per month. Two other renters were allegedly informed of a 16 percent increase from $475 to $550 per month.

"Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy," Koster said. "I want to continue to assure consumers that this office will be aggressive in going after those who engage in this illegal behavior."

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the names under which the defendant conducted business were not registered with the Missouri Secretary of State, as is required by law.

Koster asked the court to issue a permanent injunction that would prohibit the defendant from engaging in unfair, unlawful and deceptive practices and to require that the defendant to pay full restitution to the consumers who were harmed, pay the state an amount equal to 10 percent of the total restitution ordered, pay a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation of the law and pay all court and investigative costs.

Koster previously obtained restraining orders against two towing companies that conducted business in Joplin following the tornado. Koster is seeking restitution for consumers and civil penalties in both cases.

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