Minding Your Business

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

Tag Archives: covid-19

DOJ Continues Price Gouging Enforcement Under the Defense Production Act

On April 2, 2021, the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey released an update of her office’s efforts to prevent fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting prosecutions involving the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and the Unemployment Insurance programs, as well as prosecutions involving price-gouging and hoarding … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Legislation on the Horizon in States Without Laws

While the majority of states have had price gouging laws on the books since before the pandemic, widespread pandemic price gouging has led states without laws to reconsider. Some states, like Colorado, passed price gouging legislation mid-pandemic, but other states, including New Hampshire and Washington, are now playing catch up.… Continue Reading

One to Watch: Constitutional Challenges to NYC’s Price Gouging Rule

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, … Continue Reading

Idaho Says Pandemic Margin Boosts Are Lawful When Prices Fall

State legislatures are still continuing to enact new changes to their states’ price gouging statutes.  Some are expanding the scope of their laws, while others are tailoring the law or emergency orders in response to new issues that have arisen during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Idaho took a third tack and limited limit … Continue Reading

Beyond Essential Goods and Services: Price Gouging Laws Being Applied to a Wide Range of Products

The majority of price gouging laws have been activated throughout the country for over a year now, but reports of price gouging continue, along with enforcement and lawsuits. While many are aware that price gouging restrictions apply to essential goods such as medical and emergency supplies, some covered goods are often mistakenly thought not to … Continue Reading

The End of Price Restrictions in California… Or Merely a Step Towards Normal

One year after declaring a state of emergency in California due to COVID-19, the California Governor issued a new Executive Order lifting pricing restrictions on most categories of products previously subject to California’s price gouging statute. Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021 Order comes as states across the nation slowly reopen. This 2021 Executive Order marks a … Continue Reading

Rental Properties Not Exempt From Price Gouging Laws

While PPE, toilet paper, and groceries make price gouging headlines, consumer goods are not the only goods covered by price gouging laws in many states. Less publicized, but equally important, lodging or housing may be found on lists of products covered by many price gouging statutes. A recent case in California offers a glimpse. In … Continue Reading

How to Freeze a Case: Defending a Price Gouging Suit after the Winter Storms

As Texas and other southern states thaw from a frigid winter storm, companies doing business in these states should assess and take steps to minimize the risk of a price gouging claims. As suits are filed in the wake of the storms, companies should prepare now to defend such claims, whether from state attorneys general … Continue Reading

The Future of the FTC, Part II

A previous blog post discussed FTC Chairwoman Slaughter’s first priority as the newly designated chairwoman – the COVID-19 pandemic. The FTC’s second priority, racial equity, can be broken down into two sub issues. First, the FTC plans to investigate biased and discriminatory algorithms that target vulnerable communities. As the FTC acknowledges, the analysis of data … Continue Reading

Nationwide Deep Freeze Leads to Spike in Natural Gas Prices

In the wake of the deep freeze that recently swept the nation, natural gas has taken the forefront among a slew of price gouging allegations. Last week’s winter storms caused natural gas spot market prices to spike, with some reporting up to a 100% percent increase. Reports also surfaced of spot prices for wholesale electricity … Continue Reading

The Future of the FTC, Part I

On January 21, 2021, President Biden designated Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter as acting chair of the FTC. Soon thereafter in one of her first speeches in her new role, Chairwoman Slaughter announced two substantive areas of priority for the FTC – the COVID-19 pandemic and racial equity. Read the full … Continue Reading

Double Masking is Good, but Still Make Sure You Can Be Heard in a Deposition

As the legal profession continues to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, even something as normal and regular as a deposition has often become an adventure. Even after accounting for the immediately obvious questions (is in-person too dangerous or not allowed? If conducting a remote deposition, what vendor should I use?) and all-to-common glitches like connectivity … Continue Reading

DPA Update: Biden Administration Brings Renewed Focus to Defense Production Act

As part of the federal government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden plans to “fully use” the Defense Production Act (the “DPA”) to compel production of medical and protective equipment, and ensure adequate supplies and distribution of vaccines. On January 21, 2021, the White House released its National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Settlements Around the Country: Non-Compliance May Cost You

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 … Continue Reading

COVID-19 “Not a Golden Ticket” to Avoid Discovery Obligations

The COVID-19 pandemic has unquestionably had a massive effect on nearly all aspects of American life.  However, now that COVID-19 is and continues to be a known risk, parties should carefully consider when and to what extent it can be invoked to obtain an extension or continuance with respect to discovery obligations.… Continue Reading

Are Long-Term Pricing Controls Here to Stay? Three Reasons the Optimists Might Be Right

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 … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Laws: Can Promotional Pricing Become Your New Price?

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 … Continue Reading

COVID-19 and Immunity from Liability

Millions of people across the country are waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  For businesses, immunity is sought not against the virus but against liability, and, in some cases, businesses have been successful in invoking COVID-19 as a means to do so.  Recently, the Southern District of New York held that the pandemic immunized a … Continue Reading

Are Long-Term Pricing Controls Here to Stay? Three Reasons the Pessimists Might Be Right

In some ways, it feels like the country is moving into another phase of how we experience the COVID-19 pandemic. With two vaccines in distribution, and more vaccine approvals possible, the pandemic could very well be effectively managed much sooner than experts initially feared. Given the light the end of the tunnel, it is worth … Continue Reading

Idaho Attorney General Pumps Brakes on Gas Sales

On November 18, 2020 the Idaho Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement with three gasoline retailers following an investigation into alleged price gouging. The settlement agreement, which focuses largely on the unique restitution system it creates, discloses that the allegations in the case stemmed from the companies’ motor fuel prices following Idaho’s declaration of … Continue Reading

Costs of COVID-19 Vaccines: What We Do and Don’t Yet Know

The roll-out of vaccine approvals has led to some confusion over what charges consumers might be asked to cover. This echoes the confusion previously discussed with respect to COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody test pricing. But consumers, providers, and others that will have any involvement with vaccine production, distribution, or administration should be aware that the Coronavirus … Continue Reading

Navigating Chapter 11 Reorganizations during COVID-19: New Complications or Business as Usual?

In the best of times, a chapter 11 reorganization is an uncertain and stressful process for all involved. When the disruptive effects of COVID-19 are added to the mix, and many businesses face significant economic difficulties, one can begin to appreciate the daunting task facing bankruptcy courts, debtors, creditors, and their lawyers.… Continue Reading

Ordering Out During the Pandemic: Surcharges and Delivery Fee Caps Might Be Here to Stay

Reports of restaurants adding a “COVID surcharge” have become widespread during the pandemic. In recent months, cities and states across the nation have implemented a number of measures designed to help struggling restaurants adapt to the new normal. These include allowing restaurants to implement a “surcharge,” as well as capping fees that third-party delivery services … Continue Reading
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