Abbott sues Texas hotels for price gouging during Ike

By Chris Rizo | Oct 2, 2008

Greg Abbott (R)

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is suing two hotels for raising their rates during Hurricane Ike last month, his office said Thursday.

The attorney general accuses Hotel Nacogdoches, just north of Houston, and the Super 8 Brookshire Motel near Katy, Texas, of illegally profiting from a declared disaster.

The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits businesses are prohibited from taking advantage of a declared disaster by selling or leasing fuel, food, lodging, medicine or other necessities at an exorbitant rate.

The attorney general said Thursday that Hotel Nacogdoches increased its normal room rate from $49.99 to $109, while the Super 8 Brookshire Motel raised its nightly rate from $99 to $125.

The hotels also allegedly charged evacuees state and local hotel and motel taxes despite Gov. Rick Perry's declaration waiving them on Sept. 8.

"Although Texas law clearly prohibits profiteering during declared disasters, these defendants are charged with increasing room rates for evacuees during Hurricane Ike," Abbott said. "The law imposes strict penalties on vendors that attempt to increase their profits after the governor issues a disaster declaration."

The attorney general's office is seeking civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation and up to $250,000 per violation for victims over 65.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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