N95 Mask Manufacturer 3M Files Fraud, Price Gouging Lawsuits Against Companies in Florida
According to reporting from the Tampa Bay Times, 3M—one of the nation’s largest manufacturing companies—has filed fraud lawsuits against several companies around the country, including at least four companies in Florida.
In the complaints, 3M alleges that the defendant companies are improperly acting as authorized N95 mask distributors and selling its highly sought after medical supplies at inflated prices. Here, our Miami business & consumer fraud attorneys provide an overview of the lawsuits filed by the Minnesota manufacturer.
N95 Face Masks are a Highly Demanded Medical Device
An N95 mask is an air filtering mask that provides considerable protection to the person wearing it. 3M manufacturers a disposable N95 mask that is, in normal times, relatively inexpensive. Indeed, these masks typically sell for under $2.00 each. Of course, these are not normal times. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the demand for N95 filtration masks. While 3M has not raised the price of its masks, many distributors are trying to sell the highly desired masks at a markup—both to individual consumers, medical providers, and government authorities.
3M Alleges Unauthorized Dealers are Fraudulently Gouging Prices
Notably, 3M only authorizes certain distributors to sell its N95 masks. However, many non-traditional dealers have entered the market during the coronavirus outbreak. In its lawsuits, 3M alleges that some of these non-traditional suppliers are improperly (even fraudulently) price gouging. On May 1st, 3M filed two more lawsuits against companies in Florida—one against an Orlando-based firm and another against a St. Petersburg-based firm.
In both cases, 3M contends that the companies are trying to take advantage of its counterparts, including Florida’s state government. Thus far, Florida has signed $400 million of purchase contracts for N95 masks. Though, many of these masks have not yet been delivered. 3M believes that some of the companies that Florida (and other states) are dealing with do not have the right—and potentially the capacity—to deliver the masks that they are promising at the price that they are getting. As an example, the lawsuit filed against the Orlando-based company alleges an improper 460% markup.
The Company is Seeking Injunctive Relief
In its lawsuit, 3M is seeking injunctive relief. In the most simple terms, injunctive relief is a court order requiring a party to do or refrain from doing a certain act. In this case, the manufacturer wants a Florida court to mandate that all unauthorized dealers halt any illegal activities. If 3M obtains financial damages and recovers N95 masks in the legal proceedings, the company has already promised to donate all proceeds to state governments or non profit organizations.
Call Our Miami, FL Business Fraud Lawyers for Immediate Help With Your Case
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida business fraud attorneys fight aggressively to protect the legal rights and financial interests of our clients. For a confidential, no obligation consultation, with an experienced attorney, please call us today. We handle business fraud claims in Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and throughout the entire region.