Southeast Texas Record

Monday, February 24, 2020

Texas AG files more suits against businesses accused of price gouging during Harvey

By David Yates | Nov 14, 2017

General court 08

AUSTIN – On Nov. 13, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed more price gouging lawsuits against businesses accused of taking advantage of Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

In the cases, consumers were allegedly charged excessive prices for gasoline.

“Price gouging by unscrupulous profiteers is something that no Texan should have been confronted with during a declared disaster like Hurricane Harvey,” Paxton said.

“Price gouging is illegal, unconscionable and completely opposite the spirit of cooperation we saw just about everywhere else in our state before, during and after the hurricane. My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute more cases arising from Harvey.”

After a state disaster has been declared, as Gov. Greg Abbott did on Aug. 23, Texas law prohibits selling necessities such as drinking water, food, medicine, and fuel at an exorbitant or excessive price.

Paxton named the following defendants in Hurricane Harvey price gouging lawsuits:

- Big Willy’s, which has locations south/southwest the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, charged $3.99 and $4.99 per gallon of unleaded gasoline at numerous stations; and

- Tejano Mart in Laredo, which charged consumers up to $9.99 per gallon of unleaded regular gasoline.  

In September, Paxton filed the first round of Hurricane Harvey price gouging lawsuits against a motel in Robstown and gas stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and Laredo.

Last month, he sent notices of violations to 127 Texas retailers accused of price gouging at their gas stations. A finding of price gouging carries civil penalties up to $20,000 for each violation, rising to $250,000 for violations targeting those 65 and older.

Texans who believe they’ve been scammed or price gouged should call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at (800) 621-0508.

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Texas Office of the Attorney General