Attorneys general of four states issued subpoenas, and in some cases, filed lawsuits today against gas stations for allegedly price-gouging customers shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to American Automobile Assoc. (AAA) of Northern California. The states of Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Michigan have all taken steps toward legal action against suppliers for illegally profiteering amidst fears of possible gasoline shortages.
"Capitalizing on the fears of consumers is not only illegal, but unethical," said AAA spokesman Atle Erlingsson. "We support all efforts by state officials to control unjustifiable gas price increases, including prosecution when necessary."
Florida attorney general Bob Butterworth issued 15 subpoenas to companies that allegedly raised their prices at least 10 cents shortly after the attacks. In Illinois, according to The Oil Price Information Service, Casey's General Stores Inc. faces a lawsuit filed by the attorney general for raising prices to $5.00 a gallon at more than a dozen locations.
In Michigan, attorney general Jennifer M. Granholm has filed suits against nine gas stations for allegedly increasing prices to a range of $2.91 to $5.00 a gallon. Kansas’s attorney general is offering a settlement agreement to the estimated 140 stations that may have raised their prices to $2.49 a gallon or more. Under the agreement, the retailers would pay a $1,000 fine, with $750 going to The United Way’s September 11 Fund. Those who fail to comply will face fines up to $10,000 per violation.
"There is absolutely no cause for concern,” Erlingsson said. “Our nation's gas supply is very stable and all of our refineries and underground pipelines are in great shape."