New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Quality King Distributors, alleging that the company engaged in price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the AG alleged that Quality King dramatically increased its wholesale prices for Lysol products, in violation of the state's price gouging law, "simply to line its own pockets and profit off New Yorkers during a time of crisis."
New York law prohibits selling consumer products that are necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of consumers for an "unconscionably excessive price."
The AG alleged that, prior to the pandemic, Quality King sold Lysol spray to retail stores for about $4.25 per can. The AG charged that, over the last several months, Quality King has repeatedly raised its prices for the spray, and, in March, charged about $9.15 per can. The AG said that Quality King sold more than 46,000 cans of Lysol Spray at improperly inflated prices. The lawsuit also alleges that Quality King sold Lysol disinfectant wipes at illegal prices as well.
In the lawsuit, the AG is asking for injunctive relief, restitution, and civil penalties.
In a statement, James said, "“Quality King’s profiteering during this time of crisis is appalling. Instead of ensuring New Yorkers could protect themselves from this virus and stop the spread, Quality King chose to prey on a global pandemic to line its own pockets. I won’t hesitate to take action against any company that tries to cheat New Yorkers during this crisis and beyond.”
As the pandemic continues, this lawsuit is an important reminder that regulators across the country are still aggressively enforcing state and local price gouging laws not only against retailers, but against other companies in the distribution chain. (Last month, we reported that the Texas AG sued the nation's largest egg producer for price gouging as well.)
"I won’t hesitate to take action against any company that tries to cheat New Yorkers during this crisis and beyond" -- New York Attorney General Letitia James