The Business Council opposes this legislation, A.120 (Dinowitz), due to its redundancy. Â The state’s General Business Law, Section 396-R, efficiently and correctly addresses “price gouging” and provides enforcement authority to the state’s Attorney General. The law allows injunctive relief, a civil penalty up to $25,000, as well as court ordered restitution to impacted consumers.
Due the current and historical strength of the Attorney General’s office and its willingness to address “price gouging” using existing provisions, additional legislation is unnecessary.
This bill allows individuals to take action instead of, or potentially in contradiction of, decisions made by the office of Attorney General enforcement, and permits individuals who perceive themselves to be victims of “price gouging” to seek awards beyond their given harm. The individual seeking action can either receive the actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater. The prevailing plaintiff can also receive attorney’s fees. The provision does not bar multiple individuals from seeking restitution for the same claim through private action under the changes to the General Business Law. These private penalties could be in addition to civil penalties and court ordered restitution pursued by the State Attorney General in a separate case.
In addition, if enacted, the bill permits private “enforcement” or pursuit of action even if the Attorney General has taken action, or decided that no enforcement action is warranted.
We believe multiple levels of enforcement for violations of the General Business Law are unnecessary and that the Attorney General has adequate statutory authority that the office has consistently relied upon to address the issue.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes approval of A.120 (Dinowitz).