Attorney general sues gas stations for Sandy price gouging


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano
THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long lines at the pump were not the only fuel-related pains felt after Sandy.

Rapidly increasing fuel prices further victimized storm survivors. Now the state is getting back at the gas gougers.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed lawsuits against four New York gas stations and has reached settlements with 25 others for violating the gas price gouging statue immediately after the storm.

“Six months ago, as New Yorkers were sitting in lines waiting for hours to buy critical supplies of gasoline, some shady business owners were trying to make a fast buck at their expense,” Schneiderman said on Thursday, May 2.

“Today, we are sending a powerful message that ripping off New Yorkers during a time of crisis is against the law and we will do everything in our power to hold them accountable.”

The attorney general said his office received hundreds of complaints regarding post-Sandy gas price gouging and price jumps that took place up to several times a day.

An investigation into those complaints found dozens of area stations in violation of New York State’s Price Gouging Law. The statute prohibits vendors, retailers and suppliers from charging prices that reflect a “gross disparity” between prices immediately before and after a natural disaster or similar event that cannot be attributed to other factors outside of the seller’s controls.

The 25 gas stations that settled will pay a total of $167,850.

One of those stations, a Mobil at 40-40 Crescent Street in Long Island City, increased its retail markup on regular gasoline from $1.03 a gallon before Sandy to $2.08 immediately after the storm, according to the attorney general. Drivers paid $4.89 a gallon to fill up their tanks post-storm at the station.

Only one New York City gas station, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, along with three in Long Island, is named in Schneiderman’s lawsuit. Investigations are pending against dozens of other stations.

 

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