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Texas AG files lawsuit against three businesses for price gouging during Harvey

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, file photo, water from Addicks Reservoir flows into neighborhoods as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise in Houston. For small businesses, the recovery from hurricanes and other natural disasters can take years, if they can recover at all. Business owners in Houston have only just started assessing their damage and how to move forward. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Attorney General Ken Paxton filed lawsuits Tuesday against three Texas business accusing them of unlawful price gouging.

According to Paxton, the three businesses were gouging their prices while consumers were in need of fuel, shelter and other essentials as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

“It’s unconscionable that any business would take advantage of Texans at their most vulnerable – those who are displaced from their homes, have limited resources, and are in desperate need of fuel, shelter and the basic necessities of life,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Texas has tough price gouging laws, and my office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases arising from Hurricane Harvey.”

Texas law prohibits vendor from overpricing necessities such as drinking water, food, clothing, and fuel during a declared disaster.

Paxton named the following business in Hurricane Harvey price gouging:

  • Best Western Plus Tropic Inn. The Robstown-based hotel allegedly charged three times its normal room rate the weekend Hurricane Harvey hit.
  • Bains Brothers, owners of Texaco-branded gas stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Two of the stations allegedly charged $6.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31, even while displaying signs with prices in the $3-$4 range.
  • Encinal Fuel Stop, a Chevron-branded gas station just outside Laredo, allegedly charged customers $8.99 and $9.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31.

Texans in affected counties who believe they’ve been scammed or price gouged should call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-621-0508.

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