Minding Your Business

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

Tag Archives: covid-19

Anatomy of a Price Gouging Suit

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 … Continue Reading

Michigan Supreme Court Strikes Down Governor’s Emergency Powers

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 … Continue Reading

California Strengthens Penal Code Section 396, Codifies Price Gouging Executive Order

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 … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Laws Remain Even When Social Distancing Laws Have Ended

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently made headlines around the country by announcing that he was lifting physical distancing restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida. The Governor’s order allows restaurants to open at full capacity, and prevents cities and counties from ordering them to operate at less than half capacity unless justified by health … Continue Reading

Proskauer on Price Gouging: An Interactive State-by-State Price Gouging Map

Proskauer’s Antitrust Practice Group has provided clients with need-to-know information on price gouging restrictions across the country since the start of COVID-19. In light of the continuously changing landscape, Proskauer has developed an interactive state-by-state price gouging map, which provides a quick reference to current price gouging restrictions in effect in each state. *   … Continue Reading

NY Court Embraces the Law of Supply and Demand, Shows Hostility to Price Gouging Complaint

On September 23, 2020, the New York Supreme Court dismissed Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against Quality King Distributors alleging that the wholesaler unlawfully increased the price of its Lysol products. In a decision no longer than a page, Judge Eileen A. Rakower found that Quality King’s prices were neither “unconscionable or overall extreme.”… Continue Reading

Spotlight on Past Price Hikes: Anticipating and Establishing Defenses to Price Gouging Class Actions

Six months into the states of emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a sizeable amount of data on how prices have actually moved, potentially leading to more private actions as plaintiffs now have the opportunity to review prices retroactively and establish claims based on hard data.… Continue Reading

State Price Gouging Laws and Price Controls: A Historical View on a Questionable Objective

Price gouging laws have become more relevant than ever, but a historical review reveals that price gouging laws may be a historically recent, and misguided development. It was not until 1979 that New York State enacted the nation’s first law explicitly targeted at price gouging.… Continue Reading

Annual Contract Renewals at the Intersection of Price Gouging and Antitrust Laws

As annual supply contracts come up for renewal, businesses may be wondering whether price increases for annual contracts are permitted under the panoply of price gouging laws currently in effect. Parties may want to negotiate contracts with “normal” price increases, operating under the assumption that, at some point during the contract year, price controls will … Continue Reading

Beyond the Pandemic: Pharmaceutical Industry Compliance Considerations

Since the ongoing states of emergency were put in place in response to a health crisis, pricing in the pharmaceutical industry is under more of a microscope than usual.  While the immediate focus may be on products that are used to diagnose, treat, or prevent COVID-19, price gouging laws cover a wide variety of pharmaceutical … Continue Reading

What Constitutes a “Trade” or “Market” Area Under State Price Gouging Statutes?

Price gouging enforcement is at an all-time high, but many ambiguities about the application of these state laws remain. Among the many questions left unanswered: what does a statute mean when it says “trade area” or “market area”? Many laws refer to the price at which the same or similar good or service is available … Continue Reading

Can a Declaratory Judgment Protect My Company From a Price Gouging Lawsuit?

Much of the discussion to date regarding price gouging laws has rightly focused on the two core elements of a price gouging lawsuit: what constitutes a violation and what are the defenses? And while these defenses are valid, most would prefer to never have to spend the time and expense getting a case dismissed in … Continue Reading

What’s My Price? Price Gouging Enforcement, Bargaining Power and Stealth Price Increases

Businesses may be wondering whether there is increased risk of price gouging liability when they impose higher penalty terms, ask for higher up-front payments, raise rates, or otherwise seek terms that may be more burdensome. Sellers and service provides should consider the risk of being held liable for non-price terms that result in higher customer … Continue Reading

Private Plaintiff and Class Action Price Gouging Claims Spread as Emergency Continues

Private plaintiffs and state enforcers have been targeting businesses up and down the supply chain for price gouging violations. Some of these actions have been over the price of goods long associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as toilet paper and medical supplies. Yet others, such as a dispute in which a California winery has … Continue Reading

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

Pandemic Price Gouging Laws Unintentionally Harming Businesses and Consumers

Most price gouging laws have been in effect for upwards of five months. These laws were not designed for the length and national scope of the current pandemic, which has led to them unintentionally harming businesses and the economy, and ultimately consumers along the way. In a recent Fortune article, Proskauer’s antitrust lawyers Chris Ondeck … 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
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