3M files suit alleging coronavirus N95 mask price gouging in New York

The lawsuit accuses the company of selling masks for a price 500-600% more than 3M's list price

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Mask company 3M on Friday filed a lawsuit against another mask seller claiming to be affiliated with 3M for price gouging essential supplies amid the novel coronavirus.

The New Jersey-based mask seller called Performance Supply LLC offered to sell medical-grade N95 masks to New York City, which has become the largest COVID-19 epicenter since the pandemic began in Wuhan, China, for $45 million, according to the company.

That price is 500 to 600 percent more than 3M's list price for the masks, according to 3M.

People wearing masks and gloves wait to checkout at Walmart in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

"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,” Denise Rutherford, 3M senior vice president of corporate affairs, said in a statement.

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Damages recovered from the suit will be donated to COVID-19 relief efforts.

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"This lawsuit is only one of the many legal tools 3M is using to protect the public," Rutherford added. "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."

Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country's novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. Picture taken March 4, 2

The company has also created a hotline for information on how to identify legitimate 3M products. The hotline can be reached at (800) 426-8688.

The lawsuit comes a week after 3M came under fire from the White House after it was reported that the mask-maker was exporting much-needed coronavirus protective masks to other countries.

The idea that 3M is not doing everything possible for America "is false, nothing can be further from the truth," Mike Roman, 3M's chairman and CEO, said.

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Since the controversy, President Trump settled his differences with 3M at Monday's coronavirus task force briefing and expressed gratitude toward the medical mask maker for its cooperation with the administration.

“We reached an agreement, a very amicable agreement with 3M for the delivery of an additional 55.5 million high-quality face masks each month," Trump said. "We are going to be getting over the next couple of months 166.5 million masks for our frontline healthcare workers. So the 3M saga ends very happily."

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