A recent Amazon class action lawsuit accuses the online retailer of charging excessive prices for basic goods such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer in the wake of the coronavirus.
Plaintiff Stephanie Armas, a Florida resident, says she took to Amazon in an attempt to stock up on supplies in the face of the spreading novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
As a mother of five, Armas says she wanted to purchase toilet paper and hand sanitizer for her family, but was charged “grossly unconscionable” prices for these goods.
Amazon allegedly charged Armas $99 for a 36-pack of toilet paper and $199 for a two-pack of 1 liter hand sanitizer bottles.
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Armas argues these prices are far more what is usually charged, with toilet paper typically selling for around $1 a roll and hand sanitizer selling for between $7 and $8 per liter.
“COVID-19’s rapid spread and the very real threat of a widespread quarantine, have caused a run on various personal hygiene products, such as disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and toilet paper,” the Amazon class action lawsuit notes.
“Unfortunately, retailers, such as [Amazon], are preying upon the public’s fear of a surging epidemic and using COVID-19 as an opportunity to pad profits by way of unlawful price increases.”
COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China and has quickly grown to be a global pandemic due to its virulence. At the time of Armas’ complaint, the coronavirus had spread to 104 countries around the world – resulting in more than 109,000 confirmed cases and over 3,800 deaths. By Feb. 28, the CDC confirmed the virus reached the United States.
Armas argues that Amazon’s exorbitant prices are not only unreasonable but are also illegal under Florida law, considering the state of emergency.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reportedly declared a state of emergency on March 9 in the face of the outbreak. The declaration aimed “to create a unified command structure […] and allows, if need be, out of state medical personnel to operate in Florida.”
Armas argues this state of emergency declaration also added protections from consumers based on Florida law. Under the state’s laws, retailers are not allowed to charge unconscionable prices for goods or services in the wake of a declared state of emergency.
The plaintiff says Amazon has violated these laws by charging unreasonable prices for hygienic products such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Armas seeks to represent a Class of Florida consumers who purchased hygienic products from Amazon after a state of emergency was declared in Florida on March 9. On behalf of herself and the proposed Class, Armas seeks actual damages, statutory damages, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
Plaintiff and the proposed Class are represented by J. Alfredo Armas, Francesco A. Zincone and Eduardo E. Bertran of Armas Bertran Pieri.
The Amazon Coronavirus Class Action Lawsuit is Armas v. Amazon.com Inc., Case No. 104631782, in the Eleventh Circuit Court in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida.
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