Chiesa resolves price-gouging allegations against gas station

Bryan Cohen Sep. 26, 2012, 1:55pm


NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced a settlement on Wednesday with a Branchville Lukoil gas station to resolve allegations of price gouging.

Sussex County's Thakur Gas LLC, doing business as Lukoil, allegedly gouged consumers when a state of emergency was declared in August 2011 during Tropical Storm Irene.

Under the terms of the settlement, Thakur Gas paid $20,000 to the state with another $30,000 payment suspended as long as the company does not violate the state's Consumer Fraud Act or the terms of the settlement during the next three years.

Chiesa's office filed a lawsuit against Thakur Gas in December on behalf of the DCA after receiving complaints from the gas stations' customers about alleged immediate price increases following Tropical Storm Irene.

"Excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency constitute price gouging and are illegal," Chiesa said. "We will not allow consumers to be gouged for the very items they need to recover after a disaster strikes."

On Aug. 25, 2011, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency throughout New Jersey. State law labels price increases as excessive if they are more than 10 percent higher than the price at which a service or good was sold before the state of emergency. If added costs are imposed by suppliers, prices are considered excessive if the seller's markup from cost grows by more than 10 percent compared to the seller's markup immediately before the state of emergency.

Thakur Gas made no admission of liability under the terms of the settlement.

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