On June 3, 2020, Proskauer’s Antitrust Group hosted a webinar on what supply chain businesses should know about price gouging laws and regulations, and, during and after the webinar, we fielded some thoughtful follow-up questions from clients and friends who attended. We have collected and provided answers to the questions we received below in an effort to further inform and share insights on price gouging concerns raised by attendees. Thank you to all who joined us for the webinar.
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.
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 news for companies facing potential price gouging claims, and it further highlights the need for compliance with both price gouging and antitrust statutes. This article explores the interaction between antitrust enforcement and price gouging enforcement, and sets forth key issue-spotting guidance for companies that are potentially impacted.
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 pose greater compliance risk than in states with specific price gouging laws because these the states may not have statutory definitions or clear standards for what conduct constitutes unlawful price gouging. In this post, we consider price gouging rules and enforcement in states without price gouging-specific laws.
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, and recent case filings, highlight the importance of price gouging compliance during this unprecedented global pandemic.
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…
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, 2020, which remains in effect indefinitely.