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.

Department of Justice Continues Defense Production Act Enforcement

On October 13, 2020, the Department of Justice announced that a Santa Monica women had been charged with price gouging N95 masks in violation of the Defense Production Act. According to the DOJ, the women sold the masks at vastly inflated prices sometimes nearly 1,100 percent over list price. The women admitted to charging inflated prices and pled guilty to the misdemeanor offense. According to the plea agreement, the women “accumulated and resold the masks at prices in excess of the prevailing market prices willfully, that is, with knowledge that masks had been designated as scarce materials and with knowledge that accumulation of the designated materials to resell in excess of prevailing market prices was unlawful.” See our prior post addressing DOJ enforcement under the Defense Production Act.

Virginia Considers Expansion to Price Gouging Law

On October 7, 2020, Virginia’s Legislature passed a revision to its Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act. Under current law, the Act’s prohibition on selling necessary goods and services at an unconscionable price during a declared emergency does not extend to manufacturers and distributors unless it advertises to consumers. While the proposed bill would expand the restrictions to certain manufacturers and distributors engaged in consumer transactions, it would not reach manufacturers or distributors of agricultural goods or services unless the manufacturer or distributor advertises such agricultural goods or services. The Governor has until October 21, 2020 to sign the bill.

Oregon Officials Warn of Price Gouging

As Oregon residents are recovering from the wildfires that recently swept across the state, officials are warning of post-disaster price gouging. According to the director of Consumer Outreach and Education for the Oregon Attorney General, “[w]e have heard from a number of Oregonians about things like price gouging, from the very beginning of the wildfires that was a big issue for folks trying to find housing, hotels, motels, and a variety of lodging.” As recently reported, Oregon is currently under overlapping states of emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfires.

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

John is a partner at the Firm, advising on the full range of foreign investment and antitrust matters across industries, including chemicals, pharmaceutical, medical devices, telecommunications, financial services consumer goods and health care. He is the first call clients make in matters relating…

John is a partner at the Firm, advising on the full range of foreign investment and antitrust matters across industries, including chemicals, pharmaceutical, medical devices, telecommunications, financial services consumer goods and health care. He is the first call clients make in matters relating to competition and antitrust, CFIUS or foreign investment issues.

For more than 25 years, John 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, joint ventures, or price gouging compliance.

John’s practice focuses on the analysis and resolution of CFIUS and antitrust issues related to mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures, and the analysis and assessment of pre-merger CFIUS and HSR notification requirements. He advises clients on issues related to CFIUS national security reviews, and on CFIUS submissions when non-U.S. buyers seek to acquire U.S. businesses that have national security sensitivities.  He also regularly advises clients on international antitrust issues arising in proposed acquisitions and joint ventures, including reportability under the EC Merger Regulation and numerous other foreign merger control regimes.

His knowledge, reputation and extensive experience with the legal, practical, and technical requirements of merger clearance make him a recognized authority on Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust merger review. John is regularly invited to participate in Federal Trade Commission and bar association meetings and takes on the issues of the day.

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.