Mississippi law creates stiffer fines for price gouging‏

Nick Rees Apr. 14, 2009, 4:00pm

Jim Hood (D)

JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has signed legislation backed by the state's attorney general to protect consumers from gasoline price gouging during and following natural disasters.

"I applaud our lawmakers for their support and the governor for signing this bill which will help to protect Mississippians who may become victims of gasoline fraud, as well as deter sellers and distributors from being dishonest," Attorney General Jim Hood said. "We will continue to work with the Department of Agriculture to strictly enforce the new law."

The bill, Senate Bill 2032, stiffens penalties for false representation for sale of petroleum products and will take effect after July 1. Anyone found guilty of price gouging, under the new bill, will be banned from selling or distributing gasoline.

The bill also increases the penalty for price gouging from serving no time in prison to a maximum of twelve months and/or a fine. In addition, the fine for price gouging is increased from a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $500 to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $1,000.

Hood has been an active crusader against price gouging at the pump, settling in 2007 with five companies - Sumrall Oil, Prince Oil, Spaceway, Southern Oil and Moak Petroleum - that artificially raised the price of gasoline post Hurricane Katrina.

Two other companies - Fair Oil and Wilburn Oil - chose not to settle, leading to lawsuits filed by Hood.

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