Price gouging; goods, services and supplies during a Public Health Emergency.
1. For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meaning:
(a) “Public Health Emergency” shall mean a period of time during which the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the President of the United States has declared a State of Emergency pursuant to their respective authorities related to the health and safety of the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or some portion thereof.
(b) goods, services and supplies shall mean those goods, services, products, and supplies used, bought or rendered primarily for the care, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of illness or disease, such term shall include, but not be limited to: bandages, disinfectants, gauze, or dressings; hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, saline solution; medical or surgical masks; medical or surgical gloves; tissues; over-the-counter medication; and any other goods or products identified in emergency regulations promulgated by the commission of the department of health during a public health emergency.
2. No service provider, manufacturer, supplier, wholesaler, distributor or retail seller of such goods, services and supplies shall sell or offer for sale any such consumer goods, services or supplies for an amount which represents an unconscionably excessive price during a Public Health Emergency.
3. (a) A price is not an “unconscionably excessive price” if it is fifteen percent or less above the price charged by the seller for such goods, services or supplies immediately prior to the Public Health Emergency. (b) A defendant may rebut a prima facie case based on an alleged violation of this section with evidence that additional costs not within the control of the defendant were imposed on the defendant for the goods, services or supplies that caused the price to exceed the fifteen percent increase.
4. Where a violation of this section is alleged to have occurred, the Attorney General or the District Attorney may apply in the name of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts within the judicial district in which such violations are alleged to have occurred, on notice of five days, for an order enjoining the allege unlawful acts. In any such proceeding, the court shall impose a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars for each violation plus forfeiture of the amounts related to any transaction found to be an “unconscionably excessive price”.
5. This Act shall take effect immediately.
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