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3M sues distributor for alleged price gouging of N95 respirators in New York

FILE PHOTO: Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi/File Photo

(Reuters) – 3M Co (MMM.N) said it filed a lawsuit against Performance Supply LLC on Friday, alleging that the New Jersey-based company had posed as an authorized vendor of 3M-branded N95 respirators and offered millions of them for sale to New York City officials at prices as much as 600{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} over the list price.

N95 respirators, which are designed to filter 95{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} of airborne particles, are among the personal protective equipment most needed now by medical professionals as they battle the coronavirus outbreak. New York City has become the epicenter of the global pandemic.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, said Performance Supply “offered to sell $45 million in N95 respirators to New York City officials at prices 500-600{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} over 3M’s list price.” According to the lawsuit, Performance Supply offered about 7 million 3M masks to city procurers on March 30 at over $6, up to 600{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} of 3M’s list price.

Performance Supply did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

3M said in a statement that it seeks injunctive relieve and damages and will donate any damages recovered to COVID-19-related nonprofit organizations.

3M said last week it expects to ramp up U.S. monthly production of N95 respirator masks to 50 million in June, and is also looking to produce 2 billion N95 respirators globally within the next year.

Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

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