Judge rules in favor of oil jobber in price gouging case

A chancery judge has ruled that a state price gouging law is unconstitutional in a case involving a Winston County oil jobber in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“The statute does not define the offense of price gouging with sufficient definiteness so as to provide reasonable notice as to what constitutes illegal price gouging for oil companies operating during times of natural disaster and emergency,” Chancery Judge J. Max Kilpatrick said in a ruling filed Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Attorney General Jim Hood investigated possible price gouging and eventually accused seven different Mississippi oil jobbers of price gouging on gasoline during Hurricane Katrina.

Five of the companies, including Philadelphia-based Prince Oil Co. Inc., settled with the Attorney General and admitted no wrongdoing, although each company paid a fine.

Attorneys for Fair Oil of Louisville argued that the statute should be voided because it was too vague.

Neshoba Democrat