Many companies have increased prices in recent months. Reportedly, across the economy, prices “rose by 5 percent in May compared with a year ago.” Restaurants are raising prices to cover the cost of increases in wages in a tight labor market. The prices of used and rental cars are quickly rising, due to low inventory and higher demand. Gasoline prices have risen, and not just as a result of the recent cyberattack.
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.
Over a year ago, states of emergency were declared across the country. Such emergency declarations are often the trigger for state pricing restrictions. Tracking the start and end of the emergency declarations is essential for interpreting the pricing restrictions they impose. For instance, in Oklahoma, the pricing restrictions remain in place throughout the duration of the emergency, and extend for 30 days after the state of emergency has terminated. Proskauer’s Price Gouging Coast to Coast Reference Guide has been updated to reflect new states of emergency dates and legislative changes.
In a case of mistaken identity and a web of conflicting testimony, a Fresno local business successfully appealed a price gouging fine. The saga between the store and the City of Fresno offers insights in the importance of maintaining proper business records to defend potential price gouging allegations.
On April 8, 2021, an Administrative Hearing Officer for the City of Fresno, California dismissed an Administrative Citation issued by the City Attorney’s Office against a local business for allegedly price gouging. City Inspectors issued the $10,000 citation in March 2020 while Fresno was under a State of Emergency. The store owner appealed the fine, and after a virtual hearing, the Hearing Officer determined that the City had not met its burden of proving each element of the case against the business.