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OU executive director of major giving, husband sued by state for price gouging

COLUMBUS — Ohio University’s executive director of major giving is under fire after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued her and her husband for violating the state’s price gouging law after the couple allegedly sold bottles of hand sanitizer for nearly $40 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yost is taking the Athens couple to court for allegedly hoarding hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer and selling them online for 11 times the retail price, which is a violation of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.

The Fultzs sell products on Amazon under business called danielle-on-2nd.

According to Yost, the couple saw an opportunity to profit off the pandemic as the demand for health products skyrocketed and they rapidly acquired bulk quantities of hand sanitizer and listed the items for sale, jacking up the price by as much as 1,017.3 percent.

“This is appalling behavior and should be answered in a court of law,” Yost said. “Even more, it points out the need for a specific price-gouging law.”
Ellen Fultz, the executive director of the development, major giving and constituent programs at Ohio University in Athens, has been placed on administrative leave from her job pending an investigation.

According to the lawsuit, Amazon records show the couple raked in over $26,700 from the sale of 600 Purell hand sanitizer products in February and March. Compared to the average cost of the same products sold on Amazon in January, the couple raised prices by 241.8 percent to 1,017.3 percent.

The suit alleges that Marcus and Ellen Fultz charged $39.44 for 8-ounce bottles of Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel, a product that cost $3.53 on Amazon prior to the pandemic.

The lawsuit, filed in Athens County Common Pleas Court, cites violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, saying the couple unfairly inflated prices in response to unforeseen events that caused an increase in demand during a national health crisis.

The state is asking the court to grant an order requiring them to reimburse affected customers and pay civil penalties. The court can order the couple to pay $25,000 for each violation of the Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.