Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced passage of legislation last week that would give the right to sue to those who fall victim to price gouging in times of emergency such as the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.
The bill provides a legal option for such victims. Under current law, only the State Attorney General is empowered to bring legal action against violators of the price gouging statute. This bill would leave those powers intact, but would also permit individual victims of price gouging to sue unscrupulous businesses directly.
In addition to the right of action granted to the Attorney General, this legislation gives victims of unlawful price gouging the right to sue for injunctive relief, and/or recovery of actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater. It also permits the court to award an additional penalty of up to $5,000 for a willful or knowing violation and reasonable attorney’s fees.
“During Superstorm Sandy, my office had received several calls from constituents with price gouging complaints,” said Thiele. “Retailers, who artificially inflate the prices of necessities during storms and emergencies, should be punished. Consumers shouldn’t be taken advantage. This legislation will send a loud and clear message — price gouging will not be tolerated in New York.”