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Attorney General's News Release

July 13, 2011

Attorney General Koster takes action against Joplin landlord for taking unfair advantage of tornado victims

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today his office has filed suit in the Jasper County Circuit Court against a Joplin landlord for price gouging and other violations in the aftermath of the May 22 Joplin tornado.

Koster said David Box, Jr., rents out apartments at Northside Apartments and Classic Townhouses. Following the May 22 tornado, Box notified tenants that their rent was being raised and required that they contact him within three days or their rental unit could be leased to someone else.

Koster said his office received complaints from 13 renters who had received the notice from Box. In one instance, a renter was notified his rent would go from $475 per month to $595 per month, a 25 percent increase. Two other renters were notified their rent would go from $475 to $550 per month, a 16 percent increase.

“Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy,” Koster said, “I want to continue to assure consumers that this office will be aggressive in going after those who engage in this illegal behavior.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the names under which the defendant conducted business were not registered with the Missouri Secretary of State, as required by law.

Koster is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from engaging in unlawful, unfair, and deceptive practices and to require the defendant to pay full restitution to those consumers who were harmed; pay a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation of the law; pay the state an amount equal to 10 percent to the total restitution ordered; and to pay all court and investigation costs.

Koster previously obtained temporary restraining orders against two towing companies which conducted business in Joplin following the tornado, Northland Tow Service, LLC, and Independence Tow & Recovery, Inc. In addition to obtaining the temporary restraining orders, Koster is seeking restitution for consumers and civil penalties in both cases.

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