MICH. COMP. LAWS § 445.903(z).
On March 20, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 2020-18, which imposed enhanced restrictions related to price gouging. The order is set to expire April 17, 2020.
In a March 23, 2020 press release , the Attorney General announced that she has “assigned a team of special agents to assist her attorneys in gathering information related to the high number of price-gouging complaints the Attorney General’s office has been receiving during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Michigan Senate Bill No. 847, introduced March 17, 2020, is bipartisan legislation, supported by the Attorney General, to strengthen the state's anti-price-gouging laws. It authorizes penalties of $10,000 per violation by individuals, and $1 million for a business, for raising prices on “building materials, consumer food items, goods, services, emergency supplies, or medical supplies” during an emergency by an “excessive” amount. Violations would be a misdemeanor, and the Attorney General would also be authorized to file class action lawsuits seeking triple damages. Senate Bills 846 and 848 apply the same restrictions and penalties to lodging and energy products, respectively.
On March 27, 2020, the Attorney General sent a cease and desist letter to a supplier of face masks.
After receiving complaints about excessive prices for hand sanitizer, on March 30, 2020, the attorney general announced that her office is moving forward with an investigation into price gouging by an Ann Arbor business.
On April 7, 2020, the attorney general announced that her office sent cease and desist letters to four online sellers for price gouging of items like hand sanitizer, face masks, respirators, and disinfectant spray. One of the sellers sold a product to a Michigan consumer at a grossly excessive price; the other three sellers are located in Michigan.
On April 16, 2020, the attorney general announced an investigation into a Muskegon company for several potentially illegal activities including price-gouging.
On April 22, 2020, the attorney general announced that she led a multi-state coalition asking Congress to temporarily regulate prices of medical supplies and equipment to respond to inflated prices for these goods.
On April 28, 2020, the Attorney General released a video with state senators Jeremy Moss and Ruth Johnson about what they’re doing to address price-gouging in Michigan. The senators introduced the three-bill package of anti-price gouging legislation in March.
On April 29, 2020, the attorney general issued a press release saying her office is “on high-alert for online price gouging,” and that her office has sent cease and desist letters to three online sellers selling products like face masks and hand sanitizer. In addition, a Michigan resident selling high-priced face masks on eBay reached an assurance of voluntary compliance agreement with the attorney general’s office. To date, her office has received 3,689 complaints about price gouging.
On May 1, 2020, the Attorney General’s office said it had received price gouging complaints for prices of feminine hygiene products during the pandemic.
On May 5, 2020, it was reported that the attorney general had received over 3,800 price gouging complaints, with 60% of the complaints reported by phone. Most of the complaints are related to milk, toilet paper, and ground beef.
On May 15, 2020, the governor extended the executive order that enhanced price gouging restrictions through June 12, 2020.
On May 26, 2020, the Attorney General’s office issued a press release stating that it had received more than 4,200 price gouging complaints, although some of the complaints do not warrant further investigation or do not contain enough information to verify that the complaints are legitimate. The Release also updated the status of investigations against A.M. Cleaning & Supplies for increased cost of hand sanitizer; against BioMed Wellness Center (who has entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance) for selling sanitizers, gloves, and face masks at increased prices; against Smokehouse Distribution for price gouging face masks, and against several online sellers on Amazon.
The statute applies to property and services.
Executive Order 2020-18 applies to any good, material, or consumer food item with a fair market value of less than $1,000 or any emergency supply.
Charging a consumer a price that is “grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold.” MICH. COMP. LAWS § 445.903(z).
Executive Order 2020-18 specifies that:
- If a person has acquired any product from a retailer, the person must not resell that product in this state at a price that is grossly in excess of the purchase price at which the person acquired the product, and
- A person must not offer for sale or sell any product in this state at a price that is more than 20% higher than what the person offered or charged for that product as of March 9, 2020, unless the person demonstrates that the price increase is attributable to an increase in the cost of bringing the product to market or to an extraordinary discount in effect as of March 9, 2020.
EXCEPTIONS OR DEFENSES
Statutory provision is not limited to emergencies.
AG AUTHORITY/ PENALTIES
For statutory violations, the Attorney General may seek include injunctive relief; and for persistent and knowing violations, a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per violation. MICH. COMP. LAWS § 445.905(1).
A willful violation of Executive Order 2020-18 is a misdemeanor.
PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION
Yes., under the Consumer Protection Act. MICH. COMP. LAWS § 445.911.