Emergency declaration puts price gouging laws in effect

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

With the governor declaring a public health emergency due to the coronavirus, Attorney General Jeff Landry encourages Louisiana consumers to be conscious of price gouging.

“If consumers suspect price gouging, they should report it to their local law enforcement agencies,” said Landry. “We do not want people or businesses to illegally take advantage of this crisis.”

Price gouging is defined as the increase in prices or value for goods and services that are higher than the prices ordinarily charged for comparable goods and services at or immediately before the time of a state of emergency. Once a state of emergency is declared by the governor or parish president, a price gouging ban is placed on the area declared to be under the state of emergency. The ban may remain in effect for up to 30 days after the state of emergency ends.

In addition to civil penalties and restitutions for consumers, a violation of the price gouging statute is a criminal offense punishable by a fine up to $500.00, 6 months imprisonment, or both; imprisonment at hard labor for not more than 5 years where there is any serious bodily injury or any property damage in excess of $5,000; and imprisonment at hard labor for not more than 21 years where a willful violation results in the death of any person.

It is important to note that price gouging is not attributable to verifiable market fluctuations and usually involves gasoline, hotels, and generators. When reporting price gouging, consumers should include as much information as possible including: the name and address of the merchant, the price and receipt of the item or service, and their names, addresses, and phone numbers so they may be reached if further information is needed.

If price gouging is suspected, it should be reported to local law enforcement. For more information on price gouging, contact Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Consumer Protection Section at 800-351-4889 or www.agjefflandry.com.