Minding Your Business

Proskauer’s perspective on developments and trends in commercial litigation.

Alleged Price Gouging in the District of Columbia? Attorney General Racine Sets Sights on Local Business

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. Continue Reading

A Test Costs What? Pricing and Reimbursing COVID-19 Tests

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 has also increased since July, by 14%. Continue Reading

H.R. 4712: A “Narrowly Tailored” Obligation Under the Orphan Drug Act

The Orphan Drug Act provides two mechanisms by which a drug can receive an orphan drug designation for a “rare” disease: (1) if it affects less than 200,000 persons in the United States, or (2) if it “affects more than 200,000 in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost . . . will be recovered from sales in the United States of such drug.” See 21 U.S.C. § 360bb(a)(2).  H.R. 4712 (the “Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act”), which passed the House on November 17, seeks to amend the latter “cost recovery” pathway in order to address what has been called a “loophole” in the Act. Continue Reading

International Spotlight: Price Gouging Restrictions in China

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.

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Insurers Did Not Act As Advertised in “Advertising Injury” Suit

Does coverage for liability arising out of “advertising injury” include copyright infringement suits where the insured was not alleged to have engaged in advertisement? In Superior Integrated Solutions, Inc. v. Mercer Insurance Company of New Jersey, Inc., the New Jersey Appeals Court said “yes,” affirming the trial court’s granting summary judgment for an insured. Continue Reading

Price Gouging and Bad Intent: How Much Does it Matter?

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.

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Is Your Class Action Settlement Reasonable? A Look Inside the Court’s Approval of the Yahoo! Data Breach Settlement May Shed Some Light

A federal court recently issued a decision approving a class action settlement resolving litigation stemming from five Yahoo! data breaches that occurred from 2012 to 2016 and affected at least 194 million Yahoo! customers. The company agreed to establish a $117.5 million settlement fund and institute numerous business practice changes designed to prevent future data breaches. Of particular interest in the approval order, however, was the Court’s comparison of the instant settlement to a prior in-district data breach settlement. A review of the approval order provides insight into the factors judges analyze to ensure settlements are reasonable, proper, and in the best interests of the class.

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