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.

Chicago Passes Ordinance Capping Third-Party Delivery Service Fees

On November 23, 2020, the Chicago City Council unanimously approved an ordinance capping service fees that third-party delivery companies may charge to Chicago restaurants. The restriction prohibits third-party food delivery companies from charging more than a 10% delivery fee on online restaurant purchase orders. Violators may face fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per offense. According to Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), “COVID unfortunately exposed what I would consider to be price gouging of restaurants by some third-party apps. This is an issue in every major city in America. So it’s my hope that this will provide some much-needed relief to a restaurant industry that will be, in some ways, taken advantage of, especially given their heavy reliance now on carryout and delivery to make a very modest bottom line.” The restriction, which immediately went into effect, remains in effect until indoor dining returns to 40% capacity or higher for at least 60 days. Similar restrictions have been put in place in New York and elsewhere.

The Latest Pandemic Shortage: Gym Equipment

As gyms remain closed or at limited capacity, some store owners are seeing a shortage in exercise equipment. Keeping things like dumbbells in stock has been nearly impossible one store owner reports. According to the store owner, “some people [are] buying up inventory and price gouging online.” As people continue to try to set up home gyms as an alternative to heading to the gym during the holiday season, businesses should keep in mind that some state price gouging laws have broad application and may cover goods such as exercise equipment.

Two Texas Men Charged in Fraudulent Scheme to Sell Face Masks at Five Times List Price

On November 24, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that two Texas men were charged with attempting to fraudulently sell 50 million facemasks that did not exist. According to the DOJ, the men sought to sell the non-existent masks for more than $317 million, a price five times the public list price set by the mask manufacturer. The men would have profited up to $275 million as a result of the fraudulent scheme. The DOJ states that if convicted, both men “face up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 20 years in prison for each of the two counts of wire fraud. Each of these charges also carry a possible $250,000 maximum fine.”

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.