Class actions plaintiffs and state enforcers have tried to use state price gouging laws to hold online retailers accountable for prices set by third parties. It remains unclear, however, whether platforms will—or can, under the current legal frameworks—be held liable for price increases made by third party vendors. One of the key cases that could shed some light on this issue, discussed last summer, has been put on hold, pending the completion of arbitration.
Kelly Landers Hawthorne is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Antitrust and Product Liability groups. She represents clients in litigations and due diligence across a range of industries, including consumer products, life sciences, healthcare, education, hospitality, sports and entertainment.
Kelly also maintains a diverse pro bono practice. She received Proskauer’s Golden Gavel Award for excellence in pro bono work in 2019.
She is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Minding Your Business blog, where she authors articles related to price gouging issues.
Kelly is also a member of the Proskauer Women’s Alliance Steering Committee, where she serves on subcommittees focused on highlighting and providing professional development opportunities for women at the firm.
Prior to her legal career, Kelly was a Teach For America corps member and taught middle school in Washington, DC.
While at Columbia Law School, Kelly served as an articles editor of the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts and interned for the Honorable Sandra Townes of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The Sixth Circuit issued its opinion in the Online Merchants Guild v. Cameron case on April 29, 2021, dissolving a preliminary injunction that had prevented the Kentucky Attorney General from investigating alleged violations of Kentucky’s price gouging laws, and remanding to the district court for further proceedings.
In a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 13(b) of the FTC Act does not authorize the Federal Trade Commission to seek monetary relief in the form of restitution or disgorgement, despite the agency’s redoubled practice of seeking such relief under the Act since 2012. The Court’s…
On March 18, 2021, retailer Union Square Supply, Inc. filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York challenging New York City’s price gouging enforcement practices. The complaint alleges that defendants are responsible for “the creation and maintenance of an illegal and unconstitutional penalty enforcement scheme, abuse of emergency powers, and other misconduct that improperly assesses penalties and fines on businesses without any notice or due process.”
Almost a year into the business disruptions caused by the pandemic, businesses continue to find ways to adapt and to comply with new pricing restrictions. Some of these changes relate to additional costs that businesses may need to pass along to consumers — at least in part. Given what we have seen in recent months, it is worth revisiting how businesses can implement these surcharges with an eye towards compliance with local price gouging laws.
As companies continue to examine their pricing in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, state attorneys general and private plaintiffs continue to bring suits under state price gouging laws. The complaints include requests for a range of remedies, including injunctions, disgorgement, restitution, fines, or other financial penalties. With the majority of price gouging laws having now been in effect for almost a year, we have seen businesses and state attorneys general enter into a variety of settlements. These settlements are a useful tool for businesses looking to gauge their risk as it relates to price gouging enforcement and compliance.
The gravity of the pandemic is palpable, and seemingly constant news about it is hard to escape, with recent reports including updates on the availability of vaccines, the changing scope of various stay-at-home orders, and the perceived risks of new COVID-19 variants. But there will come a time—perhaps sooner than the pessimists predict—when this will no longer be the all-consuming story it has been for the past ten months. In this post, we address a few of the strongest reasons that most pricing restrictions may be lifted before the start of the next school year.
Businesses regularly engage in promotional pricing and discounts as a sales strategy to attract customers. However, what happens if a business enacted a promotional price right before the pandemic struck and price gouging laws were triggered? Are those businesses stuck with those promotional prices until states of emergency come to an end and price gouging laws are turned off? Some state price gouging laws explicitly provide an exception for promotional or discount pricing. And while other states are silent on the issue, that doesn’t mean businesses are without a defense.