How Much Is Too Much? Price-Gouging Under the Defense Production Act

by Jim Mitchell and Kamera Boyd
December 15, 2020

The escalation of the COVID-19 crisis throughout the country has brought stories of front-line health workers and everyday people assisting one another in extraordinary ways. Unfortunately, it has also provided examples of others trying to take unfair advantage of the circumstances for their own economic gain. Federal and state authorities have responded by stepping up efforts to enforce criminal laws targeting hoarding and price-gouging. To that end, on March 24, Attorney General William Barr issued a memorandum to all federal law enforcement agencies making clear that the U.S. government “will not tolerate bad actors who treat the crisis as an opportunity to get rich quick,” and directed the creation of a task force dedicated to addressing pandemic-related “market manipulation, hoarding, and price-gouging.” This article will examine the due process concerns raised by the government’s use of the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) to criminally prosecute alleged price-gouging activity.

Reprinted  from the Westchester Bar Journal, , Volume 45, No. 1, Fall 2020, with permission from the Westchester County Bar Association, publisher.

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Copyright © 2020 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
(No claim to original U.S. government material.)

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