“We’re glad to be able to get these essential medical supplies back in the hands of the communities where they came from to assist our law enforcement and first responders with the response to COVID-19,” said Attorney General Cameron (center).
FRANKFORT, KY (March 20, 2020) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today distributed medical supplies to aid local law enforcement and first responders with responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The supplies were obtained as part of a multi-state price gouging investigation following a scheme that occurred in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Attorney General Cameron and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III acted jointly to stop the alleged price gouging of medical products by two Tennessee brothers and recover these scarce supplies for Kentucky and Tennessee residents. The New York Times reported last week that the brothers had amassed a collection of over 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other medical items.
“We’re glad to be able to get these essential medical supplies back in the hands of the communities where they came from to assist our law enforcement and first responders with the response to COVID-19,” said Attorney General Cameron. “This should serve as a lesson to anyone who tries to take advantage of Kentuckians through price gouging. Predatory pricing against our citizens will not be tolerated, and we will take aggressive action against anyone who illegally profits from the coronavirus.”
The products are believed to have been purchased from retailers in Tennessee and Kentucky counties along the I-75 corridor.
“We all need to work together to get through this pandemic,” said Attorney General Slatery. “The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office is proud to partner with General Cameron and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office to fight price gouging and make sure critical supplies get to people who need them.”
Kentucky’s share of the products was returned to law enforcement and first responders in counties along I-75, including Fayette, Madison, Laurel, Whitley, and Rockcastle counties, as well as Jefferson and Spencer counties.
Each of the counties received a portion of the supplies, which included hand sanitizer, medical masks, gloves, thermometers, goggles, and disinfectant wipes. The recovery of these vital supplies will aid responders as they address COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Cameron launched an online form to make it easier for Kentuckians to report suspected price gouging during the COVID-19 health crisis. The form is available at ag.ky.gov/pricegouging. Kentuckians can also report price gouging via phone by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.
As of March 19, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received 260 complaints of suspected gouging. The division is actively investigating these claims.
When filing a price gouging complaint, consumers are encouraged to report as many details as possible about the suspected price gouging, including the name and address of the seller/retailer, the item purchased, the price of the item after the emergency declaration, and the price of the item before the emergency declaration, if known. If a refund is sought, consumers should also keep receipts from the transaction to show proof of purchase.
KRS 367.374 outlines the sale or rental of goods and services when a state of emergency is in effect, and states that no person shall sell or rent an item for a price “which is grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration.” Goods and services included in this prohibition include consumer food items; goods or services used for emergency cleanup; emergency supplies; medical supplies; home heating oil; building materials; housing; transportation, freight, and storage services; and gasoline or other motor fuels.
The Attorney General can seek restitution for victims of price gouging and may seek civil penalties against sellers of up to $25,000 for multiple price gouging violations within a 24-hour period.