RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has won three price gouging lawsuits, including one against a Durham convenience store, according to a release from his office.
The three settlements total more than $80,000 in restitution for North Carolina residents “who were forced to pay egregious prices during states of emergency,” the release said.
“It doesn’t matter the type of crisis – a pandemic, a storm, a gas pipeline shutdown – it’s illegal to try to make a quick buck by taking advantage of North Carolinians’ desperation,” said Stein in the release. “Since I’ve been attorney general, my office has won more than $1 million holding price gougers accountable. Any would-be price gougers should take note: just don’t do it.”
North Carolina’s price gouging law is currently in effect for both the coronavirus pandemic and Friday’s winter storm.
According to Stein’s office, he has brought 11 lawsuits against 27 defendants under the state’s price gouging statute. He has also “obtained 14 judgments or settlements totaling $1,080,000 against 25 defendants, including a $274,000 settlement that was the largest price gouging settlement in the department’s history.”
The three most recent wins were against Jack’s In & Out Food Mart in Durham, Secure Restoration, and Florida-based Canary Tree Service.
The $10,000 settlement reached with Jack’s In & Out Food Mart is related to price gouging on gas prices during last May’s gas shortage during the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.
In the lawsuit, Stein claimed that the store increased the price of gas from $3.29 per gallon for premium fuel on May 9, 2021, to $5.49 per gallon on May 11, 2021.
A state of emergency was declared by Gov. Roy Cooper on May 10, one day before the store raised the price by more than $2 per gallon.
Jack’s In & Out raised their price of gas by 60 percent “even though there was no correlating increase in how much the company was paying for fuel,” Stein said.
Stein also accused the store of false advertising, saying that the “defendant advertised regular gas for $2.909 a gallon, when in fact they were not selling regular gasoline at all, but only premium at an unreasonably excessive price.”
The suits filed against Canary Tree Service and Secure Restoration were related to price gouging incidents in the Wilmington and New Bern areas following Hurricane Florence.
Both suits were filed in 2019.
Stein’s office settled with Canary for $38,750. According to the news release, the six customers who were harmed by the company’s price gouging will receive full restitution ranging between $4,500 and $14,000.
The Secure Restoration lawsuit was settled for $36,881.53. The company was ordered to provide full restitution for the three homeowners who were price gouged.
- A copy of the settlement with Canary Tree Service is available here.
- A copy of the settlement with Secure Restoration is available here.
- A copy of the settlement with Jack’s In and Out Mart is available here.