Bob Cooper (D)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - Sixteen companies and individuals who own a total of 27 Tennessee gas stations have agreed to settlements with the state following allegations of price gouging following Hurricane Ike.
The settlements, totaling $73,447, amount to the largest enforcement sweep in state history under its price gouging statutes. An additional suit was also filed against Weigel Stores, Inc. of the Knoxville-area for alleged unlawful prices increases under the Tennessee Price Gouging Act of 2002 and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act at seven of its gas stations.
"In these trying economic times, consumers need their hard-earned dollars to stretch as far as possible. I want to make sure that consumers are treated fairly – especially at the pump," state Attorney General Bob Cooper said. "Tennessee laws make a distinction between profits and profiteering. Under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to unreasonably raise the price of an essential consumer good in response to a natural disaster, crime, or act of terrorism regardless of whether those events occurred in Tennessee or somewhere else."
Following Hurricane Ike's landfall in Texas on September 13, several states declared states of emergency. Knoxville and parts of east Tennessee saw their gas prices rise to some of the highest in the country at that time. Thousands of consumers began reporting suspected price gouging prior to the hurricane's landfall, with the state registering over 4,000 calls alleging excessive pricing.
After a review of the complaints, company costs and pricing data from more than 100 stations, the attorney general's office settled with the 16 companies and individuals who were involved with the 27 retail stations in the settlement.
The defendants, who settled collectively, sold regular gasoline at prices ranging from $4.69 to $5.98 per gallon. Customers who submit a valid claim will be provided restitution and the gas stations will pay civil penalties and costs to the state totaling $40,000.
The companies involved in the settlement include Rocky Top Markets, for eight stations in east Tennessee; Pilot Corp. and Pilot Travel Centers, with three stations in Knoxville and one in Powell; Git 'n
Go, Inc., for two stations in Clinton; Chally Wally in Winchester; Shady Valley Country Store in Shady Valley; Caryville Amoco BP in
Caryville; Stop 'n Go Market in Morristown; Burnett's Fuel Center in Allardt; Lovell Shell in Knoxville; Adams' Lakeside Market in Estill Springs; Big D's Shell in Clinton; Seven Star Stop in Johnson City; Fun Foods in Harriman; Rock Hill Grocery in Rogersville; Lacy's Market in Mt. Juliet and Speedy Market in Winchester.