Spokesman Lynn Hicks says the lawsuit accuses Michael Evan Noteboom of Orange City of charging excessive prices for some 250 items. “He was in one case selling a 12-count package of paper towels for $119.99. He was selling a 12-ounce can of Lysol for $65.99, a 12-pack of toilet paper for 86 dollars,” Hicks says.
Hicks says they first asked Noteboom to stop selling the items at those prices. “Our lawsuit alleges he persisted, so we followed up with a cease and desist letter. Still no response from him, so we filed a lawsuit,” Hicks says. “This is the first lawsuit our office has filed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hicks says. while this is the first lawsuit — it is not the first report of price gouging.
“We’ve had 470 reports of price gouging across Iowa during this pandemic,” according to Hicks. “….Our office has been very busy checking out each of those reports.”
The governor’s coronavirus disaster declaration triggered the price gouging rule. Hicks says the complaints vary, from
individual sellers posting items online and other complaints come against traditional stores.”Everyone is covered under this law. anybody who sells something at an excessive price for goods and services that are needed during a disaster are covered,” Hick says.
Hicks says they contact the seller if the complaint looks legitimate, and the seller will most often lower the price and even give a refund. “For the most part we are getting cooperation — be we continue to investigate and we will see if we have any others that raise to the level of a lawsuit,” he says. There have also been some complaints that don’t fall under the price-gouging rules.
Some people have called and said the price of wine has gone up — well that isn’t quite considered necessary,” Hicks says. “And so, it has to fit those definitions. A lot of people say the price of gasoline varies from this city to that city. The price of gasoline has gone down during this pandemic, so it’s not price gouging.”
The lawsuit filed against the Orange City man asks a judge to order a temporary and permanent injunction to stop Noteboom from selling household merchandise on any platform. It also seeks consumer restitution and civil penalties.
Businesses or individuals found in violation of Iowa’s price-gouging rule could face civil penalties of up to $40,000 under the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.