Below in an excerpt from an article authored by Robinson+Cole Business Litigation Group lawyers Kendra L. Berardi and Edward J. Heath that was published in Industry Week.
“When demand for an item or service increases in a free market, the price tends to increase accordingly. This can seem particularly true in times of crisis – just ask anyone who recently paid $20 for a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Unfortunately for those entrepreneurs following Winston Churchill’s maxim to ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste,’ raising prices on essential items during a public emergency may be violation of state law, as well as a federal crime pursuant to a recent presidential executive order.
In addition to the new U.S. Department of Justice Task Force investigating hoarding and related price increases on essential items, the attorneys general of many states have launched numerous enforcement investigations around COVID-19. The laws under which federal and state authorities are acting vary among jurisdictions, but they generally apply to all participants in the manufacturing chain – including suppliers – and provide for not only restrictive court orders and fines but also the potential for imprisonment of company owners and employees.” Read the full article.