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More hotels, gas stations agree to pay NJ for Sandy price gouging

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A hotel in Clifton and both a service station and hotel in North Bergen were among nine companies that have settled Superstorm Sandy price-gouging charges with the state.

The State will receive $437,538 in penalties, fees and consumer restitution, under the terms of the settlement, announced by Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today.

So far, 18 of 27 lawsuits filed by the Office of the Attorney General against alleged price gougers during the state of emergency have been resolved, Hoffman said.

It brings the total to $816,313 in civil penalties, consumer restitution and reimbursement of its attorneys’ fees and investigative costs to the state.

The state Division of Consumer Affairs received more than 2,000 price-gouging complaints from consumers about gas stations, hotels and other businesses immediately following the State of Emergency declaration on Oct. 27, 2012.

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Lyndhurst service station that hiked gas prices more than 70 cents a gallon is among eight businesses that have agreed to reimburse consumers who were ripped off by price gouging during Hurricane Sandy. READ MORE ….

Joining the list of businesses that recently settled the complaints against them:

Ratan Hospitality Group will pay $111,700, which includes $9,589 in consumer restitution. The company operates a Howard Johnson’s Express on Route 3 West in Clifton and a Holiday Inn Express on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen. As part of the total, RHG will pay the state $86,861 in civil penalties and $15,251 in attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.

Meanwhile, Empire Oil at 73rd Street and Bergenline Avenue in North Bergen Will pay $18,000.00 in civil penalties to the State. An additional $36,400.00 penalty is suspended but will become payable if violations occur during the next three years, Hoffman said.

New Jersey’s price-gouging statute, N.J.S.A. 56:8-107, et. seq., prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency or for 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency. Excessive price increases are defined as more than 10 percent higher than the price at which merchandise was sold during the normal course of business prior to the state of emergency. If a merchant faces additional costs during the emergency, prices may not exceed 10 percent above the normal markup from cost.

Violations are subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000 for the first offense and up to $20,000 for subsequent offenses; each sale of merchandise is considered a separate event.

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