North Carolina AG Stein: Company fined $150K for price gouging PPE

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says a company that he had accused of price gouging on personal protective equipment has been fined $150,000.

The AG’s office said in a statement that Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier filed the judgement on Wednesday against the New Jersey-based Stephen Gould Corporation.

“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,” Stein said. “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.”

Stein’s lawsuit claimed the company pitched millions of masks to state agencies, some hospitals and nonprofits at a markup of more than 100 percent. It would have led to tens of millions of dollars in profits, he said.

North Carolina’s price gouging statute prohibits charging too much for critical goods or services in times of crisis. It remains in effect until Nov. 13.

Womble Bond Dickinson attorney Ripley Rand shared the following statement on behalf of the Stephne Gould Corporation:

We are pleased to have resolved this matter, and we appreciate the consideration of the Attorney General with this resolution. It is clear from the news that the market for personal protective equipment during the initial stages of the pandemic was volatile. Stephen Gould Corporation regrets that it became involved in that volatility by attempting to connect sources of masks with businesses in North Carolina. Fortunately, the company terminated those efforts shortly after they began and no medical masks were ever purchased or sold to any North Carolina business. Moving forward, Stephen Gould Corporation will continue its efforts to be a good corporate citizen in North Carolina, as it has done for the past 35 years.”

Attorney Ripley Rand

CBS 17 contributed to this story

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