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Volume XI, Number 134

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April 13, 2021 Price Gouging Weekly Roundup

Price gouging enforcement and litigation is front and center for company counsel and business managers nationwide. Our weekly round-up highlights some of the most relevant news and information for our clients and friends.

New York Attorney General Discusses Price Gouging Enforcement Efforts

In a recent interview with North County Public Radio, New York Attorney General Letitia James discussed her office’s efforts to stop pandemic-related price gouging. Attorney General James stated that “[i]nitially in the beginning of this pandemic, we saw price gouging of essential items, hand sanitizers and masks and things of that sort. And then we saw it transition [to] price gouging of food, primarily eggs and meat.” However, Attorney General James stressed that as small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, her office “will always approach a small business with a reported problem to ensure that we can work it out and we can reach some sort of agreement.”

Over Thirty Price Gouging Lawsuits Filed Against Natural Gas Suppliers

Texans are still feeling the freeze following the February winter storm, particularly in the massive natural gas bills that have spurred a flurry of lawsuits. At least 30 lawsuits in four states have been filed related to natural gas suppliers and public utilities. The bulk of the lawsuits are in Texas state court and involve some of the world’s largest energy companies. As the nation’s largest gas producer, Texas power generation dropped by about a third during the winter storm, which caused a surge in demand for power and heat and the alleged price gouging of utilities.

Iowa Company Recovering from Giant Utility Bills

An Iowa-based whiskey distillery is facing a $54,000 utility bill after the February winter storm. According to the distillery owner, this is more than twice their expected bill, stating that “somebody along the line took advantage of the cold weather and now we’re stuck with these horrendous bills.” The utility director of Manning, Iowa stated: “let’s call it what it was: it was price gouging.” The Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities is closely watching federal investigations about price gouging in Minnesota and Kansas and considering following suit, although director Alex Cutchy said “we have no hard evidence of any market manipulation in Iowa.” The Association says its members saw wholesale electric prices peak 240 times higher than normal.

Texas State Representative Asks Texas Attorney General To Investigate Price Gouging

In another case of natural gas price increases, Southeast Texas State Representative James White reached out to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who is investigating claims of price gouging from the town of Kountze, Texas. According to Tim Drake, the Kountze Director of Public Works, “I’ve got a bill for $519,000 for a city [of] less than 300 gas customers.” State representative White said that FEMA could be an option to help the city recoup some of the cost. 

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© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 103
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About this Author

Christopher Ondeck Antitrust Litigator chair of  Proskauer Rose nationwide Antitrust Group
Partner

Chris Ondeck is a partner in the Litigation Department and vice-chair of the Antitrust Group. He focuses his practice on representing clients in civil and criminal antitrust litigation, defending mergers and acquisitions before the U.S. antitrust agencies, defending companies involved in government investigations, and providing antitrust counseling.

Chris has handled antitrust matters for clients in a number of industries, including advertising, aerospace, alcoholic beverages, appliances, building materials, defense, medical devices, metals,...

202-416-5865
John Ingrassia, Antitrust Attorney, Telecommunications, Proskauer Law firm
Special Counsel

John Ingrassia is a special counsel and advises clients on a wide range of antitrust matters in various industries, including chemicals, pharmaceutical, medical devices, telecommunications, financial services, health care, and others. His practice includes a significant focus on the analysis of Hart-Scott-Rodino pre-merger notification requirements, the coordination and submission of Hart-Scott-Rodino filings, and the analysis and resolution of antitrust issues related to mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures. John has extensive experience with the legal, practical,...

202.416.6869
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