California Class-Action Lawsuit Accuses Amazon of Illegal Price-Gouging

California consumers are filing a class action lawsuit against Amazon over alleged price-gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. Joe Vega of WIZN 106.7 is on the radio with Attorney Ben Barry of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti discussing the lawsuit. Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.

Joe: 106.7 WIZN. It’s the Rolling Stones with Miss You. Heard Foreigner in Urgent before that. I’m Joe Vega taking you through your Wednesday Rocking Ride Home. And I got my friend on the phone, Ben Barry from Martin Harding & Mazzotti right now. How you doing, Ben?

Ben: Hello, Joe.

Joe: I’ve called you because I was just reading online about this lawsuit that the state of California filed against Amazon. It’s a class action lawsuit accusing Amazon of illegal price gouging. And I was just wondering if you could explain that a little bit for us.

Ben: Sure, so the class action lawsuit alleges a number of things. Ultimately, the class action lawsuit is a class because it affects a lot of people. But it alleges that Amazon has artificially increased the prices of certain goods because of the public health crisis that we’re experiencing. And that under California law is illegal. You cannot profit from public health crises. The question, I think, that the court has to grapple with again is whether or not Amazon is in fact is just a marketplace. For example, like a fish market where you just simply go there and buy from individual vendors. Or is Amazon responsible for doing things like putting in place price controls or stabilizing prices? I think the court will have a lot to deal with in that particular class action lawsuit. But the allegations remain that there are suspiciously a lot of things that became in demand. And Amazon was in the position to artificially increase the price of those things without actually having any shortages on the supply side.

Joe: Right, because, you know, I’m looking on this. And in addition to things like face masks and cold remedies. You’re also seeing pain relievers, black beans, flour all going way up in price on Amazon. And the supply couldn’t have been that short for those products.

Ben: Well, what we do know though, however, is that in a lot of shopping markets, for example, your local grocer there were restrictions placed on the amounts that you could purchase. Even though the price did not increase which suggest a supply-side issue. And so, a retailer, if they’re gonna meet the demand can increase the price if the supply is short. And really, that is what most modern economics are based on. So, I don’t know if the prosecution is going to be able to really further the claim.

Joe: Okay. Well, thank you very much. Ben Berry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Ben: Thank you, Joe.

Joe: Remember, you can call Ben at any time at 1-800-Law-1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. All right. Time for me to get on out of here. Mel Allen’s taking over. He’s got music from Dire Straits and Alice in Chains next.

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