May 17, 2021

Volume XI, Number 137

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Price Gouging Weekly Round Up - May 3, 2021

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 to our clients and friends.

May 3, 2021

Oregon Governor Lifts Pandemic Pricing Restrictions

Oregon Governor Kate Brown extended the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration until June 28, 2021, but lifted the executive order regarding price gouging related to the pandemic. Gov. Brown removed these pricing restrictions because “the days of hand sanitizer and, yes, toilet paper scarcity are far behind us.” The state of emergency has been in effect since March of 2020. The Governor noted the state of emergency would eventually expire, but the extension comes as a result of increased hospitalizations due to severe cases of COVID-19.

Increased Costs Lead to Increased Prices on Consumer Goods

Despite ongoing price gouging restrictions, consumer have seen some price increases on signature household items. Suppliers cite the necessity to “offset significant commodity cost inflation.” Economists point to changes in consumer demand with a spike created in part by government stimulus packages that have encouraged consumer purchasing putting pressure on factories in China and yielding increased shipping costs. Many state price gouging statutes permit price increases in response to increased costs.

Proposed Federal Legislation Would Extend Price Gouging Restrictions to Medications

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley announced legislation to regulate drug prices across the country. He pointed to examples of the same medication costing $200 in Canada and $45,000 in some Oregon counties. Similar to emergency related price gouging measures, Senator Merkley’s End Price Gouging for Medication Act would restrict pharmaceutical companies from charging more for medications than the average price charged in eleven other developed countries. His proposal would apply to all patients, regardless of insurance status.

Sixth Circuit Decision Sends Kentucky Price Gouging Case Back to Lower Court

On April 29, 2021, the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion in the Online Merchants Guild v. Cameron. The Court found that the Kentucky Federal District Court incorrectly granted an injunction preventing the Kentucky Attorney General from applying Kentucky price gouging laws to sellers on Amazon. In March 2020, the Attorney General began an investigation into Amazon and the Guild alleging possible price gouging. The Online Merchants Guild challenged the constitutionality of the law, alleging Kentucky could not apply its price gouging statute extraterritorially. Following the Sixth Circuit’s decision, the case will return to the lower court for further proceedings.

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© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 123
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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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