Massachusetts is among 35 states in the U.S. that have antitrust laws. These laws work to protect state residents from industry monopolies and price-gouging and cultivate a more competitive consumer environment. Today, these laws are being tested by recent trends in spending and demand for certain medical goods.
The first federal antitrust laws trace back to 1890 when the Sherman Act prohibited competitors from agreeing to non-competitive business practices. This law protects consumers to this day, as shoppers who seek affordable toilet paper, canned goods and medicine do not have to worry about paying high prices in a time of increasing demand. Antitrust laws do much more, too.
Most antitrust laws protect consumers from the following:
- Price fixing: This occurs when two businesses agree to fix the prices of similar products, preventing consumers from taking advantage of competitive pricing.
- Group boycott: It is illegal for two or more businesses to refuse dealing with an individual or group of individuals.
- Dividing the market: This is when businesses agree to service separate sectors of a population, either geographically or otherwise.
- Tying arranging: This is when a business forces a consumer to buy another product in order to get what they want. Some stores around the country recently attempted this by making consumers purchase other products before buying hand sanitizer or face masks.
For Massachusetts, antitrust law has a four-year statute of limitations. The state also allows private lawsuits against offending companies, permitting groups of consumers or even competing businesses to sue for damages. Additionally, this still allows for a state attorney to file antitrust cases on behalf of the state. For rewards, victorious plaintiffs may also recover attorney’s fees.
The customer is always right
Thankfully, consumers can trust these laws to serve them well. Only a few antitrust suits have been filed in Massachusetts over the years. State residents who believe they have been a victim of antitrust crime should reach out to a local business lawyer for a consultation.