In July 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to tackle the thorny question of whether Amazon can be held liable for defective products sold by third parties on its website. The Third Circuit offered up the case in June after hearing arguments in February and concluding that it was “unable to predict based on existing case law, if and how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would apply [the law] to e-commerce businesses like Amazon.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to address this matter of first impression and decide whether Amazon faces strict liability for products purchased from third-party vendors when the product “was neither possessed nor owned by” Amazon.
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 has any application to increases in price and price gouging statutes.
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 end at very different times. States are taking much different approaches to their predicted end-dates for their price gouging restrictions.
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…