Antitrust

On November 12, 2020, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against Capitol Petroleum Group, LLC (“CPG”), a retailer and distributor of gasoline in the District. According to Attorney General Racine, CPG overcharged its customers for gasoline in violation of the Natural Disaster Consumer Protection Act (“NDCPA”). This is the latest example of aggressive attorneys general investigating price gouging allegations that go well beyond personal protective equipment and other staples.…
Out-of-network providers appear to be inflating the price of COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests, according to a recent America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) survey. The October 2020 survey reports that out-of-network providers, as a whole, were charging higher prices for nearly half of the COVID-19 diagnostic tests and a third of antibody and antigen tests—a 10% increase since July. As the AHIP reports, nearly half of all out-of-network diagnostic testing exceeded $185, with between 9% and 16% of out-of-network test claims charging “more than $390 (three times the average cost).”) The amount of COVID-19 tests administered out of network…
China has a very different approach to price gouging restrictions than the state level system in place in the United States. As the Chinese market is of particular importance to our readers and their businesses, operators may benefit from unpacking the anti-price gouging rules contained in national laws and the reinforcing measures against price gouging adopted by Chinese regulators since the outbreak of the COVID-19.…
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. D.C. Attorney General Files Lawsuit against Gasoline Retailer for Alleged Price Gouging On November 12, 2020, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against a D.C. gas retailer and distributor for allegations of price gouging. According to Attorney General Racine, the company doubled its profits on every gallon of gasoline sold at its 54 gas stations across the D.C. area, despite the prices of wholesale…
Although much of the coverage relating to price gouging enforcement has focused on bad actors hoarding pandemic-related goods, businesses that make good faith efforts to comply with the panoply of price gouging restrictions may nevertheless find themselves in the crosshairs. The relevant statutes typically impose a form of strict liability, and do not take motive into account as we have discussed. Even if we assume that states should be able to freeze prices out of their desire to protect their citizens, it is not clear that states should impose strict criminal liability for price gouging violations.…
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. Amazon Continues to Combat Online Price Gouging As a second wave of potential panic buying approaches, FOX Business has reported that Amazon is continuing to combat price gouging by third-party sellers. Since the pandemic began, Amazon has removed more than one million products from its platform. With winter approaching, a new category of cold-weather products, including fire pits and propane heaters, may be subject to state…
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. Minnesota Attorney General Talks Price Gouging – Pushes for New Legislation In a recent Law360 article, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison discussed Minnesota’s fight against pandemic profiteering. To date, Minnesota has received more than 2,200 complaints related to price gouging since the start of the pandemic. Attorney General Ellison stated that a “dedicated team of attorneys and investigators have made countless calls to businesses and consumers,…
We continue to cover the patchwork of price gouging laws and enforcement actions brought under them, providing an overview of the current legal landscape. We are also following and will report on the application of price gouging restrictions outside the U.S. In this post, we provide an overview of price gouging restrictions applied by several jurisdictions that may be important to our readers.…
Beyond its devastating human toll, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a historic impact on the U.S. economy, causing tens of millions of Americans to lose employment and numerous businesses to temporarily or permanently shutter. This presents an environment ripe for distressed M&A activity. Will U.S. antitrust law stand in the way of the economic forces spurring such consolidation? U.S. antitrust enforcers have historically viewed industry consolidation suspiciously, considering it better to let troubled businesses naturally run their course. But does that view apply in the context of a rapid economic downturn, particularly where the underlying cause is an environmental health…
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. Virginia Passes Expansion of Price Gouging Law On October 21, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law a revision to Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act. As reported last week, prior to the revision, the Act’s prohibition on selling necessary goods and services at an unconscionable price during a declared emergency did not extend to manufacturers and distributors unless it advertised to consumers. The newly passed…
As mentioned in our previous post, the legality of state Governors’ emergency powers have come under scrutiny during the pandemic. Michigan’s Supreme Court, for example, recently struck down Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers. The Hawaii Circuit Court, however, recently dismissed a legal challenge to Hawaii Governor David Ige’s emergency powers. In response to the victory, Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors stated “[t]his decision sends an important message at an important time—the Governor’s emergency proclamations are lawful. By continuing to follow these rules, all residents and visitors protect each other and promote public health during this pandemic crisis.”…
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…
If there is a silver lining to the extended application of most state price gouging laws, it is that we now know more about their ramifications. State attorneys general have launched numerous investigations and brought many lawsuits, and several class actions have been filed by consumers against companies for alleged price gouging up and down the supply chain. Insights can be gleaned from these price gouging-related suits to understand the “anatomy” of these suits, including what they allege, how to avoid them, and, when necessary, how to defend against them.…
Are Michigan’s Enhanced Price Gouging Provisions Undone? As much of the country remains under various and often overlapping states of emergency, one Governor’s powers have been limited by a state supreme court. On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court held that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer did not have authority to issue or renew COVID-related executive orders beyond April 30, 2020. The Court stated that “our decision today . . . leaves open many avenues for our Governor and Legislature to work together in a cooperative spirit and constitutional manner to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”…
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…
Since the beginning of the pandemic, many governors have issued executive orders targeted at combating price gouging. However, one California state senator, Senator Thomas Umberg, proposed going a step further. In April 2020, Senator Umberg introduced Senate Bill 1196, which would codify many of the provisions in California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-44-20. On September 30, 2020, Governor Newsom signed the bill into law. In connection with the signing, Senator Umberg stated that “[t]his decisive action ensures that fewer of our neighbors will be victims of price gouging.”…