Bill Mims

RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) - Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims is suing a Salem-based gas station over allegations the company violated the state's Price Gouging Act.

The lawsuit alleges Salem's Main Street Citgo hiked the price of fuel after Gov. Tim Kaine declared a state of emergency last September prior to Hurricane Ike.

Mims is asking the court to prohibit Citgo from violating state law, reimburse affected consumers and reimburse the state for legal expenses.

The state settled with two other gas stations; Two Stars LLC, also known as Liberty Two Stars, in Salem, and Basheer Al-Bishah, a sole proprietor trading as Ran Express Stop, a gas station in Roanoke.
An investigation revealed Two Stars and Ran Express Stop also violated the state's price gouging laws.

Both stations have agreed to set aside monies for consumer restitution, as well as make contributions to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund in lieu of paying civil penalties, according to Mims.

In addition, the stations are required to post signs informing customers they are eligible for restitution if they made a purchase after the price hikes.

Virginia's Price Gouging Act, which requires a declared state of emergency to activate, went into effect July 1, 2004. Since then, the state has sued eight gas stations.

"These are our third, fourth and fifth legal actions relating to the spike in gasoline prices seen in anticipation of Hurricane Ike last year," Mims said.

"As we experience the 2009 hurricane season, I hope these settlements send a strong message that Virginia enforces its Anti-Price Gouging Act. We will not tolerate those who take advantage of Virginians by price gouging for gasoline or other necessities following a disaster."

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