On Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office had filed lawsuits against three Texas businesses accusing them of price gouging during Hurricane Harvey. Texas law forbids vendors for charging outrageous prices for necessities, including water, food, clothing and fuel during a declared disaster. The following companies were named in the lawsuits.
- Encinal Fuel Stop. The Chevron-branded gas station is located outside of Laredo. It was accused of charging customers $8.99 and $9.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on August 31.
- Bain Brothers, which owns Texaco-branded gas stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It is alleged that two of the stations charged $6.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on August 31, despite display signs suggesting prices in the $3 to $4 range.
- Robstown Enterprises Inc., which was doing business as Best Western Plus Tropic Inn. The hotel has been accused of charging tenants three times the normal room rate during the weekend Harvey hit. Best Western has subsequently terminated its relationship with Robstown Enterprises.
To date, the Consumer Protection Division with the attorney general’s office has received more than 3,300 price gouging complaints associated with Hurricane Harvey. A finding of price gouging carries a maximum civil penalty of $20,000 for each violation. Incidents involving victims 65 years and older can add an additional amount of up to $250,000 for each violation.