New York suit accuses Hillandale Farms of price gouging

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Hillandale Farms, accusing the company of illegally gouging the prices of eggs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo, Bigstock)
(Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo, Bigstock)

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Hillandale Farms, accusing the company of illegally gouging the prices of eggs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit was filed August 11 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

James alleges that in March and April, Hillandale Farms gouged the prices of more than four million cartons of eggs sold to major grocery store chains, U.S. military facilities and wholesale food distributors throughout the state. James further alleges that Hillandale charged New York customers – many of them with low incomes – up to four times the pre-pandemic price for a carton of eggs.

“As this pandemic ravaged our country, Hillandale exploited hardworking New Yorkers to line its own pockets,” James said in a press release. “In less than two months, Hillandale made millions by cheating our most vulnerable communities and our servicemembers, actions that are both unlawful and truly rotten. I will always stand up for working people, especially when they are taken advantage of by corporate greed.”

According to James’ allegations, the price of eggs in January at Western Beef supermarkets ranged from $0.59 to $1.10 per dozen, but the price for the same sized carton at the same supermarket eventually reached $2.93. She also alleged that at the commissary store at the U.S. Military Academy and West Point, the pice for a dozen large eggs was $0.84 in January, but that price rose to $3.15 in April.

The suit acknowledges that an Urner Barry director defended the price increases, saying that when demand rises sharply, the prices will also rise.

Other lawsuits against egg companies

Allegations of price gouging on behalf of two other egg companies have led to other lawsuits in other states.

In July, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a lawsuit against Dutt & Wagner, claiming similar allegations against that company. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a similar lawsuit against Cal-Maine Foods in April.

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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