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.

Illinois Businessman Charged with Price Gouging Under the Defense Production Act

On October 8, 2020, the U.S. attorney’s office for Chicago announced that an Illinois businessman was charged with price gouging protective masks during the height of the pandemic, in violation of the Defense Production Act. The businessman is accused of accumulating about 80,000 masks in March and April for approximately $5 each. The businessman allegedly then sold nearly 40,000 masks to consumers for as high as $19.95 apiece. In a written statement, U.S. Attorney John Lausch stated “[a]massing and reselling personal protective equipment at large markups during a global health crisis is not only greedy, it’s illegal under the Defense Production Act.” In response to the accusations, the businessman’s attorney stated that it is unfortunate that the businessman was charged “with something that he absolutely did not do.”

Grocer President and CEO Has Nothing But Praise for Oklahoma Grocers

President and CEO of the Oklahoma Grocers Association, Rob Edgmon, stated in a recent interview that Oklahoma grocers have “done everything they can” during the pandemic. Edgmon stated that if grocers “were charged $1 today and $2 tomorrow, they would have to put an acceptable markup on that for the new cost of goods. And a lot of times – the consumer does not understand this – but there was no price gouging going on. I know several that were accused of it, but I don’t know of any that were convicted of price gouging in Oklahoma.” According to the interviewer, Edgmon has only “praise for the grocers in Oklahoma.”

Iowa Attorney General Discusses Price Gouging Response Following Derecho

In a Law360 article, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller discussed the state’s response to the recent derecho that swept across Iowa. According to Attorney General Miller, “COVID-19 prepared us for the derecho in many respects. As did many Attorney General offices, we received a huge increase in price gouging complaints and other calls from consumers during the first three months of the pandemic.” Iowa’s Consumer Protection Division was therefore able to react more quickly than usual by streamlining the process. In response to the derecho, Attorney General Miller stated that his office “reached out to sellers immediately” and “were able to get retailers and sellers to take down internet sale postings that appeared to be price-gouging, to reduce prices and even to remove questionable products from their shelves, addressing the complaints before they increased.” Attorney General Miller further stated that given Iowa’s price gouging law was adopted in 1993, “[n]ow is a great time . . . to reexamine our consumer protection laws to ensure they are serving constituents. For example, we’ve asked legislators for years to strengthen laws to address fraud by home-improvement contractors. As more people repair damage from storms, it may be time to make another push.”

Alabama Extends Price Gouging Law as Hurricane Approaches

On October 6, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency as Hurricane Delta approaches the state. According to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, Alabama’s price gouging law is “still in effect for the ongoing States of Emergency from COVID-19 and Hurricane Sally.” Attorney General Marshall reminded Alabama residents that “[a]s our Gulf Coast struggles to recover from Hurricane Sally, now residents and businesses are bracing themselves for the approach of yet another dangerous storm. They should remain on guard for price gouging and home repair fraud in the advance and aftermath of Hurricane Delta.” The Attorney General’s Office has received 52 complaints related to allegations of price gouging and fraud from Hurricane Sally.

Photo of Christopher E. Ondeck Christopher E. Ondeck

Chris Ondeck is co-chair of the Firm’s nationwide Antitrust Group. He represents 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…

Chris Ondeck is co-chair of the Firm’s nationwide Antitrust Group. He represents 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, consumer products, defense, franchise, medical devices, metals, mining, natural resources, oil and gas, packaging, pharmaceuticals, software and telecommunications. He also has developed substantial experience advising clients regarding the application of the antitrust laws to the pharmaceutical industry, the agriculture industry, trade associations and the energy industry.

Photo of John R. Ingrassia John R. Ingrassia

When competition or antitrust questions arise, John Ingrassia is sought out for his knowledge, reputation and credentials.

John is a recognized authority on Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust merger review, and for more than 20 years has counselled businesses facing the most challenging antitrust issues and…

When competition or antitrust questions arise, John Ingrassia is sought out for his knowledge, reputation and credentials.

John is a recognized authority on Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust merger review, and for more than 20 years has counselled businesses facing the most challenging antitrust issues and helped them stay out of the crosshairs — whether its distribution, pricing, channel management, mergers, acquisitions or joint ventures.

John is a senior counsel at the Firm, advising on the full range of antitrust matters in diverse industries, including chemicals, pharmaceutical, medical devices, telecommunications, financial services and health care, among others.  His practice focuses on the analysis and resolution of antitrust issues related to mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures, and the analysis and assessment of pre-merger notification requirements. John has extensive experience with the legal, practical, and technical requirements of merger clearance and is regularly invited to participate in Federal Trade Commission and bar association meetings regarding Hart-Scott-Rodino practice issues.

Photo of Kelly Landers Hawthorne Kelly Landers Hawthorne

Kelly Landers Hawthorne is an associate in the Litigation Department.

While at Columbia, she served as an articles editor of the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts and was involved with the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic.  She also worked as…

Kelly Landers Hawthorne is an associate in the Litigation Department.

While at Columbia, she served as an articles editor of the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts and was involved with the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic.  She also worked as a judicial intern for the Honorable Sandra Townes of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Kelly is a Teach For America alumnus and taught middle school special education and math in Washington, D.C. prior to law school.

Photo of Nathaniel Miller Nathaniel Miller

Nat Miller is an associate in the Litigation Department.

Nat earned a J.D. degree from NYU School of Law, where he was a Managing Editor of the Journal of Law & Business, and a B.A. from Harvard University. While at NYU Law, he…

Nat Miller is an associate in the Litigation Department.

Nat earned a J.D. degree from NYU School of Law, where he was a Managing Editor of the Journal of Law & Business, and a B.A. from Harvard University. While at NYU Law, he worked as a research assistant for Professor Arthur R. Miller on his treatise, Federal Practice and Procedure. After law school, Nat served as a law clerk to the Honorable Claria Horn Boom of the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky.

Photo of Nicollette R. Moser Nicollette R. Moser

Nicollette Moser is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Antitrust Group and the Price Gouging team.

Nicollette represents clients on matters related to mergers and acquisitions, allegations related to unlawful conspiracy and anticompetitive agreements, price fixing claims and…

Nicollette Moser is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Antitrust Group and the Price Gouging team.

Nicollette represents clients on matters related to mergers and acquisitions, allegations related to unlawful conspiracy and anticompetitive agreements, price fixing claims and price gouging class actions. She also counsels clients on state Attorneys General and Department of Justice investigations regarding price gouging allegations.

Nicollette is a regular contributor to Proskauer’s commercial litigation blog, Minding Your Business.

Nicollette earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was as an editor of the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy. While at Georgetown, she served as an intern to the Hon. Craig Iscoe of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. In addition, Nicollette was a law clerk with the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

Photo of Jennifer Tarr Jennifer Tarr

Jennifer E. Tarr is a senior associate in the Litigation Department, and a member of Proskauer’s Sports Law and Antitrust Groups. She regularly litigates on behalf of sports leagues and counsels clients active in the sports industry on a variety of matters, including…

Jennifer E. Tarr is a senior associate in the Litigation Department, and a member of Proskauer’s Sports Law and Antitrust Groups. She regularly litigates on behalf of sports leagues and counsels clients active in the sports industry on a variety of matters, including issues pertaining to antitrust, team relocation, league governance, contract disputes, sponsorship and fan-league relationships.

In addition to sports antitrust work, Jennifer also has experience counseling and defending clients on issues related to mergers and acquisitions, claims related to unlawful conspiracy and anticompetitive agreements, monopolization claims, and price fixing claims. Jennifer is also a member of the firm’s price gouging team.

In 2019, she was a panelist on the Environmental Law Institute’s Managing Private Sector Environmental Initiatives panel, where she spoke about the Antitrust Implications of Corporate Environmental Collaborations.

Jennifer maintains an active pro bono practice and is a member of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee. She received Proskauer’s Golden Gavel Award for excellence in pro bono work in 2018 and 2019.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Jennifer clerked for the Honorable Lorna G. Schofield on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She also was a Staff Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, where she represented clients as lead counsel in litigation before multiple federal district and appellate courts and in federal mediation.

While in law school, Jennifer was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, one of three honors societies at the law school and the nation’s oldest student-run legal services center. In that capacity, she argued and won a case of first impression before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. She also argued over 20 motions in state trial court and successfully represented clients in federal mediation and before federal administrative tribunals.