Egg Harbor hotel to pay $65,000 in Sandy price-gouging suit

Posted: August 22, 2014

A Jersey Shore hotel accused of post-Sandy price gouging has agreed to pay $65,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the state Division of Consumer Affairs.

Amy Hotels L.L.C., which operated an Econo Lodge on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township, agreed to settle after the state accused it of renting dozens of rooms at inflated prices.

Gov. Christie declared a state of emergency Oct. 27, 2012, and the storm made landfall Oct. 29. From Oct. 27 through Nov. 5, the state said, Amy Hotels had 545 instances of price gouging, raising room rates as high as 150 percent in one case, where the nightly rate jumped to $199.99 from $79.99 before the storm.

State law makes illegal increases of more than 10 percent above the price merchandise was sold at immediately before a state of emergency. The suit, filed Dec. 17, 2012, lists the extent of hundreds of alleged price increases: 12.5 percent, 25, 62.50, 120.32 percent.

Amy Hotels agreed to pay $24,995.64 in consumer restitution, $25,000 in civil penalties, and $14,547.82 in reimbursement of attorney and investigative costs. The state initially sought an additional $25,000 in civil penalties, which will be suspended as long as the hotel operator does not violate the settlement terms within one year.

The settlement marks the resolution of 23 of the 27 Sandy price-gouging suits filed by the state against businesses including hotels and gas stations. With the $65,000 from this suit, the state will have won $1,080,702.64, according to a news release.

"This settlement, and the many other victories we have obtained against alleged Hurricane Sandy price-gougers, should deter other businesses from violating this law in the future," acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a statement.



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