Attorney General Ellison puts an end to more pandemic profiteering
Little Canada business did not sell N95 face masks before start of COVID-19 crisis; will stop selling them for $5 each plus shipping, and will donate all masks to comply with Governor’s Executive Order
March 27, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has put an end to more COVID-19-related pandemic profiteering.
“We’re helping Minnesotans afford their lives during this crisis by cracking down on pandemic profiteering and price-gouging on essential goods and services. Most retailers are doing the right thing by Minnesotans and I thank them for it. Some may think they’re trying to help and may not know they’re engaging in pandemic profiteering. But not knowing doesn’t make it okay, and we will still enforce the price gouging ban,” Attorney General Ellison said.
“I’m calling on Minnesotans everywhere to report to my office any price-gouging on essential items they see. We’ve had almost 500 complaints in the first week, and we’re looking into every one.”
Dragon Door Publications, Inc. is an online retailer of exercise and weight-lifting equipment based in Little Canada. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, it had not sold N95 masks in the course of its usual business, but began selling them after the start of the COVID-19 crisis for $5 each, plus shipping. It also offered to donate N95 masks with the sale of its ISOCHAIN exercise fitness program, which retails for $499.
Under Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-10, price-gouging on essential items like N95 masks is illegal for the duration of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency. Attorney General Ellison’s office has the authority to enforce the ban on pandemic profiteering on these items. Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-16 classifies N95 face masks as personal protective equipment (PPE) that non-hospital entities must refrain from using for any purpose “other than for use in delivering critical health care services or essential services requiring such equipment,” and directs Minnesota entities to donate their PPE for use by critical health care workers.
Under the terms of an Assurance of Discontinuance filed in Ramsey County District Court yesterday, Dragon Door agrees to stop selling N95 masks, to provide full refunds to all customers who purchased masks, and to donate all masks in its possession in accordance with Executive Order 20-16. Dragon Door will be liable for a $50,000 civil penalty if it violates the terms of the Assurance.
Attorney General Ellison encourages Minnesotans to report price-gouging on essential goods either through a dedicated online complaint form on his website or by calling his office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).