On March 18, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13909 in recognition of the vital role that health and medical resources continue to play in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Per the President’s Order, the Secretary of Health is now empowered to control private sales of critical resources such as, but not limited to, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators. What does this directive mean for businesses that supply these resources? If a supplier distributes any commodity deemed “critical” to the pandemic, it will be subject to the scrutiny of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and exposed to civil and criminal penalties for suspected price gouging, unlawful stockpiling, or other abusive practices. The parameters and scope of the federal government’s role has yet to be announced, however impending DOJ involvement, coupled with the already heightened scrutiny of local and state law enforcement nationwide, make it absolutely critical that affected businesses carefully monitor their pricing and inventory levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have questions regarding acceptable business practices in this ever-changing climate, please feel free to contact Mandelbaum Salsburg attorneys Damian P. Conforti or Melody M. Lins.