N.J. AG sues three more businesses over alleged price gouging

By Bryan Cohen | May 13, 2013

NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said his office has filed new lawsuits against three businesses that allegedly gouged prices following the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Chiesa's Division of Consumer Affairs filed lawsuits against Devsatya Inc., doing business as the Galloway-based Studio Inn & Suites; Berkeley Hotel LLC, doing business as the Asbury Park-based The Berkeley Hotel; and East Hanover Amoco Inc., doing business as the East Hanover-based C&M Exxon.

The Galloway-based Studio Inn & Suites allegedly raised its room rates by as much as 283 percent after the storm. The Asbury Park-based The Berkeley Hotel allegedly raised its room rates by as much as 117 percent.

Between the two hotels, there were 460 alleged incidents of price gouging.

The East Hanover-based C&M Exxon allegedly raised its prices for regular gasoline by as much as 26.3 percent and for premium by as much as 34.2 percent.

"Anyone paying attention in New Jersey knows we will not tolerate illegal attempts to take financial advantage of anyone affected by Superstorm Sandy," Chiesa said in a statement.

"We continue to investigate the more than 2,000 consumer complaints that were received during the storm's immediate aftermath, even as we watch for possible new types of post-disaster fraud."

New Jersey's price gouging statute prohibits excessive price increases of more than 10 percent higher than the normal price during a declared state of emergency and for 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency.

Chiesa's office also filed three actions in superior court to enforce previous subpoenas it served on companies accused of price gouging. The actions enforce the companies' compliance regarding requests for information.

The Attorney General's Office has filed lawsuits against 27 businesses in total, 15 hotels and 12 gas stations, that allegedly price gouged during the Superstorm Sandy emergency. Two of the lawsuits were settled with a collective payment of $46,000.

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