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Second lawsuit filed for egg price gouging

A second lawsuit filed by the West Virginia Attorney General's Office claims Merchants Distributors LLC increased egg prices by more than 200 percent for shoppers during the pandemic.
A second lawsuit filed by the West Virginia Attorney General's Office claims Merchants Distributors LLC increased egg prices by more than 200 percent for shoppers during the pandemic.(KY3)
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 1:45 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a second lawsuit against an egg supplier for driving up prices during coronavirus shutdowns.

Morrisey said North Carolina egg supplier Merchants Distributors increased prices by more than 200 percent for shoppers at Piggly Wiggly, Walmart and other stores across West Virginia. The price gouging included Morning Fresh Farms, Better Valu and SunUps brand eggs.

The lawsuit alleges that Merchants Distributors raised the price of a dozen Grade A eggs from approximately $1.18 on February 24 to $4.27 on March 30. The increase was seen at grocery stores in Boone, Braxton, Cabell and Kanawha Counties.

“Price gouging is against the law in West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “The coronavirus emergency represents a time when everyone should unite to help one another – not an opportunity for businesses to unlawfully take advantage of those shopping for something as basic as eggs.”

According to the lawsuit, Merchants Distributors blamed increased demand, a drop in supply and the Easter holiday for the price increase. The Attorney General’s investigation found that shortage did not exist.

Morrisey is asking the court to force Merchants Distributors to pay restitution to people that paid above the authorized price as well as charge a civil penalty of $5,000 for each price gouging violation.

Merchants Distributors did not immediately return a request to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by WSAZ.

Last month, Morrisey filed a similar lawsuit against Dutt & Wagner of Virginia Inc. for charging grocery stores more than 200 percent above normal prices for wholesale eggs earlier this year.

Anyone who may have fallen victim to this price gouging is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline, 1-800-368-8808, or file a complaint at ww.wvago.gov.

Copyright 2020 WSAZ. All rights reserved.

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