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Price Gouging Laws After a Hurricane

When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall last year, it enabled resources to be made available for rescue, shelter, evacuation, and providing essential commodities.  It also kicked in price gouging laws for all 67 counties in the state.  The State Attorney General Asley Moody announced that her office would crack down on price gouging and reminded Floridians they could report offenses to Florida’s NoScam app, by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com or by calling 1 (866) 9NO-SCAM.

What is Price Gouging?

Florida Statute 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to rent, sell, lease, offer to rent, sell, or lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities at an unconscionable price.  A price is presumed to be unconscionable if: (1) there is a gross disparity between the price charged during the state of emergency and the average price during the 30 days before the state of emergency or (2) the price grossly exceeds the average price the same or similar commodity was available in the trade area during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency unless the seller can justify the price by showing increases in its costs or market trends.  Examples of necessary commodities for storm events are food, water, ice, gas, lodging, and lumber.

What is the Punishment for Price Gouging?

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.  In the first few weeks after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, the Attorney General’s office received more than 1,300 complaints of alleged price gouging.

Can I Get My Money Back if I Was Price Gouged?

You may be entitled to a refund, but it isn’t common.  Of those 1,300 complaints of price gouging in the weeks after Hurricane Ian, only 100 people received refunds total of $17,000.  Generally, price gouging investigations can take a long time and litigation can take even longer.  While it’s not out of the question, immediate results are rare and the refunds are not usually large.

Have You Been Affected By Price Gouging After Hurricane Ian?

Every case is different and some price gouging has the ability to cause suffering and hardships.  I’m Rob Robinson, and I will respectfully review your case.  I have the resources and experience you need to help get the best possible result from your price gouging experience.  Please, contact my office today.

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