From hand sanitizer to toilet paper, we’ve all heard of the price gouging which has gone hand in hand with the COVID-19 pandemic – but one company is taking the price gouging for the highly-sought after N95 masks very seriously.
3M discovered that a company was selling fake N95 masks at a whopping 600 percent mark up – and closed courts have not stood in the way of filing a law suit in the New York Southern District Court on April 10, 2020.
According to 3M’s corporate website, the complaint cites illegal price gouging as well as deceptive trade practices.
Denise Rutherford, 3M’s senior vice president of Corporate Affairs stated that the corporation would not tolerate such actions, most especially when paired with exploitation during a pandemic. Rutherford added,
“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 defendant in this case, the New Jersey-based Performance Supply LLC, is accused of falsely advertising an affiliation with 3M and marketing the N95 masks to New York City officials.
In addition to requesting the cessation of illegal activities, 3M will also be seeking damages as remedy. It is important to note that 3M did not increase prices of N95 masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.”
If you are wondering what makes the N95 mask so special, check out Fast Company’s article, The Untold Story of the N95 Mask, which will fascinate some become it relies heavily on the work of Christos Lynteris, an anthropologist who is an expert in the history of medical masks, and humble others who laughed at social media photos of practical jokers donning bras as homemade masks – as it turns out, the inspiration for 3M’s earliest mask was indeed a bra cup.