3M lawsuit: New Jersey distributor attempted to sell N95 masks to NYC for 600% of list price

3M has sued a medical supply company for allegedly trying to sell its coronavirus-blocking N95 respirator mask for 500% to 600% more than the list price, according to the lawsuit filed Friday.

The masks are among the most coveted kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers treating patients in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the lawsuit, 3M charged that Performance Supply LLC, a company based in New Jersey, falsely claimed a business affiliation with the Minnesota-based corporation that is a global leader in respirator production.

The suit, which was filed in federal district court in New York City, alleges that Performance Supply tried to sell New York City $45 million worth of respirators. 3M has asked the court to order Performance Supply to stop its illegal activity.

The suit comes as the U.S. and the world scramble to overcome shortages of respirators. 3M recently tangled with President Donald Trump over his objection to 3M selling respirators to customers in foreign countries. At one point Trump appeared to accuse 3M of unfair pricing. 3M CEO Mike Roman pushed back, saying the company was not exploiting the pandemic for profits. That dispute has since been settled with some international distribution continuing.

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In a news release, 3M’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, Denise Rutherford, said, “3M does not — and will not — tolerate price gouging, fraud, deception, or other activities that unlawfully exploit the demand for critical 3M products during a pandemic.”