3M Sues Another Company Over Alleged N95 Respirator Price Gouging

April 13, 2020

New Jersey-based Performance Supply LLC is accused of trying to sell the face masks at 500% to 600% above 3M's marked prices to New York City officials.

This was bound to happen: Lawsuits over N95 respirators. A lawsuit has been filed in a federal court in New York City in which respirator maker 3M accuses Performance Supply LLC of trying to sell $45 million worth of 3M-manufactured N95 respirators to New York City officials at prices from 500% to 600% above 3M’s list price. New York City is one of the country’s COVID-19 hot spots. 

3M alleges that the New Jersey-based Performance Supply LLC is falsely claiming to be affiliated with 3M. 3M wants an injunction to make Performance Supply cease its alleged illegal activities and is also seeking an undisclosed amount of damages, the money from which to be donated to COVID-19 relief efforts. 

Denise Rutherford, 3M’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, said in a press release that “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. 3M will not stop here. We continue to work with federal and state law enforcement authorities, and around the world, to investigate and track down those who are illegally taking advantage of this situation for their own gain.”

The company said it’s also working with large online tech retail companies to find those it accuses of re-selling its respirators at exorbitant prices. In addition, says Rutherford, the company is also trying to take 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.”

3M insists that it is not changing the prices it is charging for N95 respirators. 

News of the lawsuit broke last Friday, the same day the US Food and Drug Administration announced it issued an emergency use authorization that will support the decontamination of 750,000 N95 respirators per day in the United States. The authorization will permit the decontaminationN95 or N95-equivalent respirators for health care workers in the hospital setting to reuse.The authorization was granted to STERIS Corporation for the STERIS V-PRO 1 Plus, maX and maX2 Low Temperature Sterilization Systems. The systems use STERIS N95 Decontamination Cycle (non-lumen cycle) which features the use of vaporized hydrogen peroxide.