HARTFORD- State Rep. Al Adinolfi ( Cheshire, Hamden and Wallingford) voted in the Judiciary Committee to broaden Connecticut ’s current price-gouging laws by making “unconscionably excessive pricing” a criminal and civil violation during a severe weather emergency.
In response to last winter’s repeated snowstorms, Hurricane Irene, and other devastating weather events which left Connecticut consumers vulnerable to unnecessary high prices. This proposal focuses on price-gouging for consumer goods, such lodging, snow removal, flood abatement and post-storm cleanup or repair services.
“Some companies quoted residents high prices for tree removal or roof snow removal following a storm. This bill protects homeowners from this type of price-gouging and is a consumer-friendly bill with broad, bipartisan support,” said Adinolfi.
Senate Bill 60, An Act Prohibiting Price Gouging During Severe Weather Events, bars excessive price increases for goods and services in circumstances the governor proclaims to be a severe weather event.
The bill expands current state law which already prohibits price gouging for (1) products under a civil preparedness emergency declaration, (2) products and services under a supply emergency declaration, and (3) energy resources during abnormal market disruptions.
It proposes that during a severe weather event such as a snowstorms, ice storms, hurricanes, etc. that no person can sell or offer to sell any goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price.” Under the bill, whether a price is unconscionably excessive is based on several factors, which a defendant may rebut with evidence that additional costs out of his or her control were imposed on the defendant for the goods or services.
Violators would be subject restitution in cases involving less than $ 5,000, but individuals may also sue, and courts may issue restraining orders; award actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys fees; and impose civil penalties of up to $ 5,000 for a willful violation and $ 25,000 for violation of a restraining order.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.