Minding Your Business

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

Subscribe to all posts by Nicollette R. Moser

Price Gouging Laws and Overlapping States of Emergency

Most price gouging laws have been in effect throughout the country since early March due to the pandemic. As hurricane season gets underway, businesses should be aware that new states of emergency may be declared, overlapping with current pandemic states of emergency. New states of emergency may trigger price gouging laws that cover a variety … Continue Reading

How to Calculate a Baseline Reference Price for Price Gouging Compliance

Price gouging statutes typically operate by setting a baseline over which any price increase is presumptively illegal, subject to various exemptions. But different states use different formulas for their baselines. Businesses who provide covered goods or services therefore need to determine the relevant baselines in order to calculate whether, and how much of, a price … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Laws Expected to Remain in Effect Through the End of the Year

In response to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19, states of emergencies were declared across the nation in order to implement emergency response plans and halt the spread of the virus. Generally, state governors have the power to declare states of emergency, by issuing executive orders which outline the duration of the declaration and … Continue Reading

Calculating Damages for Price Gouging Violations: Why Customer Refunds are Only Part of a Company’s Concerns

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the triggering states of emergencies are largely extended, companies are increasingly focused on compliance with state price gouging statutes. State attorneys generals have launched investigations and brought lawsuits, and several class actions have been filed by consumers against companies for alleged price gouging, up and down the supply chain. … Continue Reading

Does ‘New and Improved’ Products Mean I Can Charge a New and Improved Price?

State price gouging laws do not typically address product improvements or reformulations. Still, businesses should consider price gouging restrictions when releasing “new and improved” products, as the same pricing considerations that may apply to new products may also apply to improved, updated or reformulated products.… Continue Reading

Introducing a New Product or Service? Why Price Gouging Laws May Still Apply

While price gouging is often discussed in the context of existing products, new products and services may be covered as well. As a result, businesses looking to introduce new products during a price gouging emergency can seek guidance from the relevant price gouging laws before setting a price for their new good or service.… Continue Reading

Pricing Controls under the Defense Production Act

With the federal government’s increasing focus on enforcing price gouging compliance, attention has turned to the Defense Production Act (the “DPA”). Passed in 1950 in response to the Korean War, the DPA is modelled on the War Powers Acts of 1941 and 1942 and gives the President, among other things, sweeping power to control the … Continue Reading

When Will It End? – Price Gouging Restrictions Remain in Place for Uncertain Period

The pandemic has demonstrated that price gouging laws are not only written in an ambiguous manner, but are ambiguous as to whether they are in effect or not. A recurring problem faced by businesses is that some states are not widely circulating information about whether their price gouging laws are still active, when they expire, … Continue Reading

Federal Price Gouging Enforcement Update

While the majority of price gouging enforcement has occurred at the state level (see Proskauer on Price Gouging — A Coast-to-Coast Reference Guide), the federal government has also been active, and several federal price gouging bills have been introduced, though none have been signed into law. See, e.g., S. 3574 (empowers the FTC and Attorney … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Compliance Practice Tips: Conduct a Price Gouging Audit

Understanding and Reacting to New and Increased Risks Businesses are facing new and increased risks as they work to continue operations and meet changing demand. The unprecedented duration and nationwide scope of the emergency has created additional complexities for companies that operate on a nationwide basis. They often must comply with price gouging laws in … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Laws and the Dormant Commerce Clause?

During the pandemic, businesses are asking about their potential price gouging liability in states that they do not sell into directly but where their products might end up. At least one federal circuit court addressed this question in examining a Maryland price gouging law that covered pharmaceuticals (outside the emergency context), ultimately striking down the … Continue Reading

“Covid Surcharges” – Fair Game, or a Price Increase by Another Name?

As businesses figure out how to be creative and continue to operate during the pandemic, some have turned to “Covid surcharges” to account for new or increased costs. “Surcharges” may seem more benign than direct price increases. Still, they need to be considered with an eye towards compliance with local price gouging laws.… Continue Reading

Pricing Around the Margins: Is it Price Gouging if My Costs Have Gone Up?

Despite the continued implementation of state price gouging laws, many companies have been able to legally raise their prices by relying on exceptions related to cost increases. Many have asked whether the exception nevertheless presents risk to the extent it is used as a basis to maintain current margin levels. While this is not a settled … Continue Reading

Price Gouging and Services: Third-Party Food Delivery Price Gouging?

As new restrictions addressing the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to be proposed, some are targeting price increases for services. Businesses may want to re-familiarize themselves with the “services” covered by existing price gouging laws and pay close attention to developments, as they may cover unexpected areas.… Continue Reading

Clearance to Reduce Capacity May Not Be Clearance to Raise Prices: Can Business Review Letters Impact Price Gouging Compliance?

In response to the current pandemic, antitrust enforcers at the Department of Justice have been issuing business review letters at record pace. One of these business review letters addressed an inquiry from the pork industry about reducing supply based on the COVID pandemic disruption. This raises the question as to whether the DOJ letter about antitrust … Continue Reading

When Do Price Gouging Laws Expire?

States around the country have activated their price gouging statutes due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  These temporary restrictions typically go into effect upon the declaration of a local, state or national emergency.  However, even though all the emergency declaration began at roughly the same time (the first week of March 2020), they likely will … Continue Reading

Pricing in an Emergency: Where Price Gouging Meets Antitrust

As state investigators across the country launch price gouging investigations, one thing is becoming clear – state price gouging investigations can look a lot like antitrust investigations. Price gouging enforcement is at an all-time high, and more and more it is being combined with antitrust and unfair trade practice investigations. This overlap can be bad … Continue Reading

No Country for Price Gouging: States Can Punish Price Gouging Without Price Gouging-Specific Laws

Though much attention has been paid to state price gouging laws, several states without price gouging laws have nevertheless been active enforcers. Governors in many of these states have issued executive orders empowering their enforcers to target price gouging. Other states have repurposed existing laws to target price gouging. Price gouging in these states may … Continue Reading

Can You Sue for Price Gouging?

State Attorneys General are not the only ones enforcing price gouging laws in the current pandemic. Many states also provide a private right of action for victims of price gouging. Depending on the state, private litigants may seek injunctions, civil penalties, or even damages under state price gouging statutes and consumer protection laws. These remedies, … Continue Reading

State Price Gouging Laws: A Coast-to-Coast Reference Guide

Proskauer’s antitrust practice group has developed a State Price Gouging Laws: A Coast-to-Coast Reference Guide to help your business manage price gouging compliance during the COVID-19 emergency. State price gouging measures cast a wide and varied range of coverage, such that compliance at the national level means knowing each state’s covered products and services, permitted … Continue Reading

A Spartan Approach to Price Gouging in Michigan

Price gouging complaints around the country have been skyrocketing and Michigan is no exception. Between March 5, 2019, and April 14, 2019, Michigan had 80 price gouging complaints. During the same period in 2020, Michigan received 3,541 complaints – an increase of 4,326 percent. Michigan has been under a state of emergency since March 10, … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Takedowns – The Online Platforms Have a Say

Over the past month, state enforcers have declared a war on price gouging, but some of the most effective enforcers have not been the states. Online platforms and other large retailers have taken extraordinary steps to restrict price gouging, and their monitoring has already led to hundreds of thousands of items pulled from e-commerce websites. … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Laws and Covid-19: What Supply Chain Businesses Should Know

Due to the unprecedented length of the current COVID-19 emergency, price gouging laws that once focused solely on retail prices, now are being applied to participants throughout the entire supply chain. At the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, state enforcers focused on increases in retail prices to consumers. However, enforcers now are opening investigations and taking enforcement … Continue Reading

Don’t Mess With Texas: Price Gouging in the Lone Star State

When it comes to price gouging in the Lone Star State, Attorney General Ken Paxton is sending a message: don’t mess with Texas. On March 26, 2020, AG Paxton accused Auctions Unlimited, a Texas auctioneer, of price gouging disinfectant wipes, hand soaps, and 750,000 N95 respirator masks. Bidding for just 16 N95 respirator masks went … Continue Reading
LexBlog