Monday, March 7, 2011
|Final judgment against Motel 6 - Harlingen|
|Final judgment against Best Western Las Palmas Inn|
|Final Judgment against Comfort Inn - Edinburg|
|Final judgment against Comfort Inn - Pharr|
|Final judgment against Country Hearth Inn & Suites Pharr/McAllen|
Under the agreed final judgment, the defendants agreed to pay civil penalties to the State and implement multiple changes to their business practices during a declared disaster. Specifically, the five motel operators are prohibited from charging or accepting excessive or exorbitant fees for accommodations during a disaster. The defendants must also post the daily room rate in each room and maintain a registration system that includes guests’ names, contact information, length of stay and rates charged per day.
Additionally, Motel 6 Harlingen and Best Western Las Palmas Inn are prohibited from collecting hotel occupancy taxes from evacuees who are fleeing a disaster when such taxes are waived by the governor.
Under Texas law, when the governor declares a disaster, vendors are prohibited from raising prices to profit from the disaster. The attorney general is charged with enforcing the law’s prohibition on price-gouging during a declared disaster. Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, vendors cannot sell or lease fuel, food, lodging, medicine or other necessities for excessive or exorbitant prices.