October 28, 2020

Volume X, Number 302

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Price Gouging Weekly Round Up - September 21, 2020

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.

Iowa Senators Send Letter to DOJ and FTC Urging Action

On September 15, 2020, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) sent a letter to the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission urging the government agencies to take action in response to Iowa’s recent derecho. The senators requested that the “departments investigate allegations of wrongdoing, fraud and price gouging related to the Iowa derecho, and aggressively go after the individuals who engage in these illegal activities.” Senators Grassley and Ernst’s letter stated that they “have heard concerns about possible price gouging of necessary goods and services, as well as scams targeting victims of the derecho.” The senators stated that “we will not let scammers and price gougers use this tragedy to raise prices to sky-high levels and thwart Iowans from repairing and rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities.” Iowa’s state price gouging restrictions, which cover, among other things, materials, goods, or services for cleanup or repair, went into effect March 9th and are set to expire September 20th, unless extended.

Alabama Attorney General Issues Warning Against Price Gouging

On September 15, 2020, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall warned residents that Alabama’s price gouging law is in effect due to Hurricane Sally. Alabama’s price gouging law prohibits unconscionable pricing of items for sale or rent. It is prima facie evidence that a price is unconscionable if the amount “exceeds, by an amount equal to or in excess of twenty-five percent the average price at which the same or similar commodity or rental facility was obtainable in the affected area during the last 30 days immediately prior to the declared state of emergency and the increase in the price charged is not attributable to reasonable costs incurred in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity.” Attorney General Marshall stated that “Alabamians should be on-guard to possible price gouging and home repair fraud during and after Hurricane Sally’s passage through our state.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Stops New Jersey Wholesaler from Price Gouging

On September 11, 2020, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that his office entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with a New Jersey-based wholesaler after receiving complaints of price gouging. According to Attorney General Shapiro, the wholesaler sold 33.8 oz. bottles of hand sanitizer for $17.00 each. Attorney General Shapiro stated that “[s]ince the start of the public health emergency in Pennsylvania, my office has been working to stop price gouging wherever it happened. Ripping off people for hand sanitizer when they need it most is cynical and illegal. . . . Pennsylvanians and small businesses [ ] have a right to purchase life-saving goods at reasonable prices during this emergency.”

Florida Attorney General Expands Price Gouging Hotline

On September 15, 2020, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody expanded Florida’s price gouging law to cover unconscionable price increases on essential commodities related to Hurricane Sally. Attorney General Moody reminded Floridians that this expansion only applies within the areas of the declared state of emergency. According to Attorney General Moody, “[d]uring a storm-related declared state of emergency, state law prohibits excessive increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotel rooms, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, needed as a direct result of the event.” For more information, read our blog post on Florida’s price gouging law.

© 2020 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume X, Number 265
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About this Author

Christopher Ondeck, Antitrust Litigator, Proskauer Rose, law firm
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, and technical requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, and is regularly invited to participate in Federal Trade Commission and bar association discussions regarding Hart-Scott-Rodino practice issues. 

John also advises clients regarding international antitrust issues arising in proposed acquisitions and joint ventures, including reportability under the EC Merger Regulation and numerous other foreign competition filing regimes, and liaising with local counsel to coordinate foreign pre-merger notifications and ensure the efficacy and consistency of the competition law theories advanced.

202.416.6869
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