As the coronavirus outbreak chokes the nation and the entire world, consumer attorneys anticipate a number of potential class actions to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our law firm is focused on keeping clients informed and our associates safe, we are also watching for potential class action lawsuits that could be triggered by price gouging, mislabeled health products, defective products, misleading marketing and advertising and antitrust violations.
A number of class actions are already hitting the courts. One complaint targets hand sanitizer manufacturer Germ-X, which has allegedly posted misleading claims that its products are able to help prevent coronavirus infections. Here are some of the important issues relating to consumer rights that we at Bisnar Chase are very concerned about.
With panic setting in among consumers over the availability of everyday items from facemasks and hand sanitizer to toilet paper, we’re keeping a close watch on price gouging. This essentially refers to sellers trying to take unfair advantage of consumers during an emergency or disaster by significantly increasing the prices for essential consumer goods and services. California’s anti-price gouging statute, Penal Code Section 396 prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared. Local laws may also impose their own prohibitions on price gouging.
We are also watching for alleged misstatements on product labels, particularly those making health claims that are untrue relating to the coronavirus. The Germ-X class action alleges that the company falsely advertised that its hand sanitizer provides “coronavirus/flu prevention.” This essentially amounts to misleading consumers into believing its products can prevent disease or infection from pathogens such as the coronavirus.
Earlier this month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent warning letters to seven companies claiming to treat or prevent coronavirus, which has no approved vaccine or drugs to prevent it. There are also other manufacturers making a variety of products from teas to essential oils who appear to be making these false claims with regard to coronavirus.
Class action lawsuits are a powerful tool that consumers can utilize to hold unscrupulous companies accountable. This is a time when our entire nation has been plunged in a deep health and economic crisis. To take advantage of consumers, especially in their time of struggle is reprehensible.