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 for our clients and friends.

Lawsuit Seeks Documents Showing Price VA Paid for PPE

On November 26, 2020, a FOIA complaint was brought against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seeking to discover documents showing the price the VA paid for PPE in the spring. According to the complaint, the VA has ignored requests regarding the prices it paid for PPE in Massachusetts, Texas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, and Maine. The complaint states that “[t]he question of what conduct might constitute price gouging is determined, at least in part, by market prices for PPE at the time sales were made to various clients.” The complaint further states that the price the VA paid for PEE is in the public interest “to ensure that the conduct by the current targets of the USAO’s investigation is fairly and justly evaluated in the light of the actual market prices for PPE at the times at which PPE was sold to VA Medical Centers and others.”

Idaho Attorney General Announces Price Gouging Settlement with Gas Stations

On November 30, 2020, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced that his office has entered into settlements with Idaho gas retailers accused of price gouging fuel. The settlement provides a total of $1.5 million in credits to be returned to consumers in 2021. Two retailers will each provide $600,000 in credits, while a third will provide $300,000. “I am pleased that we were able to address my office’s concerns and reach agreement on this matter, and in doing so, provide Idaho consumers with meaningful redress,” Wasden said. “The parties spent significant time analyzing, reviewing and negotiating. I want to commend the retailers for their willingness to be part of this solution.”

Santa Clara County Considering Cap on Third-Party Food Delivery Fees

The Silicon Valley Chamber Coalition is seeking to place a temporary 15% limit on the fees that food delivery companies can charge restaurants. According to restaurant owners, fees can run from 30-50% of the cost of the orders. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, whose office is working on a proposal to impose such a limit, stated that “[a]t a time when local businesses are struggling to stay alive, and when restaurant workers are at risk of losing their livelihood, we just need to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.” Other counties and cities in California and elsewhere have passed similar restrictions, including San Meteo County in November. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is expected to consider the proposal at its meeting on December 8, 2020.

Florida Attorney General Recovers More than $2 Million for Consumers

On December 2, 2020, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that her office has recovered more than $2 million for consumers related to COVID-19 cancellations, purchases, and scams. According to Attorney General Moody, “[t]he Attorney General’s Price Gouging Hotline remains active and the office’s Consumer Protection Division is still assisting consumers and reviewing complaints related to price increases on commodities essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and other concerns related to the pandemic’s impact on consumer transactions.” To date, Attorney General Moody’s office has made more than 10,000 referrals and contacts to merchants about price gouging allegations, refunds, and scams. The office has also issued 107 subpoenas to investigate allegations of price gouging. For more information on Florida’s price gouging law, read our blog post.

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 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.