– A Sussex County gas station that raised
its prices by more than 10% immediately following
landfall by Hurricane Irene in August has
been sued for allegedly price-gouging consumers.
Division of Consumer Affairs yesterday filed
suit against Thakur Gas, LLC, which does
business as Lukoil at 384 Route 206 North
in Branchville. According to the civil complaint,
Ranbir Singh, of Roselle Park, serves as
the company’s initial member and registered
suit alleges that the station charged excessive
prices for motor fuel 488 times on August
advantage of those recovering from devastating
disasters is despicable conduct,”
Attorney General Paula T. Dow said. “The
alleged price gouging committed by this
gas station took hard-earned money from
storm victims who bought fuel to power generators,
chainsaws, and other equipment.”
Chris Christie on August 25 declared a state
of emergency for all of New Jersey. State
law deems price increases excessive if they
are more than 10 percent higher than the
price at which a good or service was sold
in the usual course of business prior to
the state of emergency. If additional costs
are imposed by suppliers, prices are considered
excessive if a seller’s markup from
cost increases by more than 10 percent compared
to immediately prior to the state of emergency.
suit alleges, for example, that the defendant
charged an excessive price for regular-grade
gasoline after the state of emergency had
been declared because the cash price rose
to $3.999 per gallon, from the $3.399 price
per gallon charged immediately prior to
the state of emergency. That change represents
an increase of 17.65 percent.
cash price for plus-grade gasoline increased
from $3.599 per gallon to $4.199 per gallon,
an increase of 16.67 percent. The cash price
for premium-grade gasoline increased from
$3.699 per gallon to $4.299 per gallon,
an increase of 16.22 percent.
lawsuit also alleges that the pump prices
exceeded the allowable 10 percent markup
even when factoring in the higher fuel costs
the gas station paid its wholesaler.
statewide came together to help each other
recover from Hurricane Irene. Amid this
outpouring of compassion, a disappointing
few saw economic opportunity in the distress
of neighbors and fellow New Jerseyans. That’s
what makes this alleged act of price gouging
so abhorrent,” said Thomas R. Calcagni,
Director of the State Division of Consumer
Affairs. “Let’s be perfectly
clear – New Jersey will not tolerate
profiteering at the expense of our citizens’
suffering. And those who respond to natural
disasters with greed and guile, will find
themselves facing the full force of this
lawsuit, filed in State Superior Court in
Sussex County, is the first case of alleged
price gouging related to Hurricane Irene
brought by the Division of Consumer Affairs.
Violations are punishable by civil penalties
of up to $10,000 for the first offense and
$20,000 for the second and subsequent offenses.
Each individual sale of merchandise is considered
a separate and distinct event.
Attorney General Nicholas Kant is representing
the Division in the lawsuit.
who believe they have been cheated or scammed
by a business, or suspect any other form
of consumer abuse, can file a complaint
with the State Division of Consumer Affairs
by visiting its website, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov,
or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll
free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook
and check our online calendar of upcoming
Consumer Outreach events at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/outreach