For Immediate Release:
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein reached a consent judgment against New Jersey-based Stephen Gould Corporation in a lawsuit he filed alleging price gouging during North Carolina’s coronavirus state of emergency. As a result of the consent judgment, which was approved Wednesday by Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier, the company has paid $150,000 in civil penalties and other fees and is permanently barred from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices or selling or offering to sell personal protective equipment at unreasonably excessive prices.
“Sellers cannot take advantage of a crisis to make a profit, especially at the expense of front line health care workers and first responders who were risking their lives to care for their fellow North Carolinians with the coronavirus,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m pleased with this judgment, and I hope it will serve as a reminder to everyone that my office will not hesitate to take swift action against price gouging.”
Attorney General Stein’s lawsuit alleged that the company pitched 7 million N95 or similar masks each to the North Carolina Emergency Management Unit of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, UNC Health, Duke Health, and the Charlotte Chapter of the American Red Cross at a markup of more than 100 percent, which would have led to a profit of $30,100,000 for each transaction. The company also misled its potential customers about how drastically it was marking up its prices, falsely telling one that its markup was only three percent, and telling another that its markup was “slim.”
North Carolina’s price gouging statute is in effect through Nov. 13 as a result of Gov. Cooper’s state of emergency declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The law prohibits charging too much for critical goods or services in times of crisis.
Since 2018, Attorney General Stein has brought nine lawsuits against 25 defendants under North Carolina’s price gouging statute. He has obtained nine judgments against 18 defendants, including a $274,000 settlement that was the largest price gouging settlement in the department’s history. The Attorney General’s Office has won more than $975,000 in these judgments and settlements.
A copy of the judgment is available here.
More on Attorney General Stein’s work to fight price gouging during COVID-19:
- Attorney General Josh Stein Defends North Carolina’s Price Gouging Law
- Attorney General Josh Stein Takes Action to Protect NC Health Care Systems from PPE Price Gouging
- Attorney General Josh Stein Investigates Nine Online Sellers for Price Gouging
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Temporary Restraining Order Against Alleged COVID-19 Price Gouger
- Attorney General Josh Stein Wins Preliminary Injunction Against Towing Company in COVID-19 Price Gouging Lawsuit