Owner of Econo Lodge in N.J. settles price-gouging allegations

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 21, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced a $64,543.96 agreement with an Atlantic County hotel that allegedly engaged in unlawful price gouging following Superstorm Sandy.

Amy Hotels LLC, doing business as Econo Lodge, allegedly engaged in 545 instances of unlawful price gouging during the Superstorm Sandy state of emergency. Amy Hotels allegedly raised its room rates after the declared state of emergency on October 27, 2012, by as much as 150 percent.

New Jersey's price gouging statute prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency for merchandise. Excessive price increases are defined as increases more than 10 percent above the price at which merchandise was sold during the normal course of business prior to the state of emergency.

“New Jersey’s laws specifically prohibit price gouging for needed commodities during a declared state of emergency,” Hoffman said. “This settlement, and the many other victories we have obtained against alleged Superstorm Sandy price-gougers, should deter other businesses from violating this law in the future.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Amy Hotels must pay $64,543.96, including $25,000 in civil penalties, $24,995.64 in consumer restitution and $14,547.82 in attorney fees. An added $25,000 in civil penalties will remain suspended if the business complies with the settlement during the next year.

Since Superstorm Sandy, Hoffman's office has recovered $1,080,702.64 in consumer restitution, civil penalties and the reimbursement of attorney fees from legal actions related to price gouging.

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