Respirator maker 3M (NYSE:MMM) has filed a lawsuit in a New York City federal court accusing a New Jersey company of price gouging and deceptive trade practices in the sale of its N95 respirator masks. The company accuses Performance Supply LLC of attempting to sell $45 million worth of N95 masks to New York City officials at prices from 500% to 600% above 3M's list price. It also accuses the New Jersey-based company of falsely claiming a business affiliation with 3M.
3M is seeking an injunction for Performance Supply LLC to immediately cease its alleged illegal actions, as well as requesting damages. 3M says it will donate any damages it is awarded to COVID-19 related charitable organizations.
3M said last week that it was committed to fighting fraud, price gouging, and counterfeit activity that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement on April 8, 2020, it said it would "aggressively pursue third-parties that seek to take advantage of this crisis."
In announcing the lawsuit agains Performance Supply LLC, 3M said it is part of a series of actions the company is taking to address activity such as price gouging and counterfeiting related to its respirators.
Detailing its efforts, Denise Rutherford, 3M's senior vice president of Corporate Affairs said, "3M is also making referrals to law enforcement authorities, taking down websites with fraudulent or counterfeit product offerings, removing false or deceptive social media pages, and sending cease and desist letters as a first step prior to taking further legal action."