Avoiding or Defeating Potential Antitrust and Other Civil Suits Relating to Anti-Price Gouging Laws

June 12, 2020

Social and economic upheavals can generate legal risk.

Thus, it should not be surprising that antitrust and unfair competition claims, as well as a variety of other putative class actions, are starting to materialize in the wake of the enormous disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In particular, demand for certain consumer goods has skyrocketed, while supply chains have struggled to keep up and prices—as would be expected—have been volatile.  Some of the products experiencing these issues include face masks, hand sanitizer, and staple grocery items, but as disruptions from COVID-19 ripple through the economy, other products may well suffer similar effects.  In the meantime, states and the federal government have increased enforcement of laws targeting “price gouging” and “hoarding,” and consumers have filed lawsuits alleging that firms ranging from manufacturers to distributors to resellers have engaged in conduct of this sort, such as the price gouging suit brought against Albertsons on June 3.

This memorandum explains possible antitrust and litigation risks facing firms that participate in the consumer goods supply chain marketplace, particularly in light of recent price gouging laws and lawsuits.