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22 July 2020AmericasSarah Morgan

3M secures another settlement in price-gouging campaign

3M has obtained a permanent injunction from an Ohio judge, as part of its settlement in a lawsuit filed against a company it accused of reselling N95 masks at “grossly inflated” prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge James Graham of the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granted the injunction, alongside a consent judgment, against Preventative Wellness Solutions earlier this week.

As part of the settlement, Ohio-based Preventative Wellness Solutions will pay settlement funds to 3M within 15 days. 3M will then donate the funds to nonprofit organisation Direct Relief.

Back in June, 3M accused Preventative Wellness Solutions of offering to sell hundreds of thousands of 3M’s N95 respirator masks at a grossly inflated price of $4.95 per respirator, approximately 300-400% above 3M’s list price.

“Not only does such price-gouging further strain the limited resources available to combat COVID-19, but such conduct justifiably has caused public outrage which threatens imminent and irreparable harm to 3M’s brand as defendant and similar pandemic profiteers promote an improper association between 3M’s marks and exploitative pricing behavior,” said the suit.

Since the pandemic began, 3M has  filed 18 lawsuits in ten US states, and Canada, and its legal team has investigated more than 4,000 reports globally of suspected fraud, counterfeiting, and price gouging.

The company has secured six temporary restraining orders and four preliminary injunction orders from courts, and has resolved a number of cases.

In June, 3M also filed suit against AMK Energy in Minnesota and its president Matthew Starsiak, alleging that Starsiak had falsely claimed to be affiliated with 3M, the Gates Foundation and the law firm Dentons to attempt to deceive buyers into purchasing billions of fictitious 3M N95 respirators.

The suit said: “Let this be clear: 3M has never had any affiliation whatsoever with defendants, whose fraudulent scheme during a global pandemic represents not only a new low in rapacious profiteering, but also endangers lives by diverting buyers from legitimate sources of much-needed respirators.”

3M has now obtained a temporary restraining order against Starsiak and his company.

Denise Rutherford, 3M senior vice president of corporate affairs, said: “The schemes we shut down were not only unlawful, they also endangered lives and wasted precious time and resources by diverting buyers from legitimate sources of much-needed respirators. We will continue to partner with law enforcement and online retailers to take action against profiteers.”

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12 May 2020   A trademark infringement complaint filed by 3M is “short on ultimate facts and long on inflammatory, derogatory, and conclusory assertions”, according to the company accused of price-gouging in the suit.
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12 May 2020   A trademark infringement complaint filed by 3M is “short on ultimate facts and long on inflammatory, derogatory, and conclusory assertions”, according to the company accused of price-gouging in the suit.
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20 July 2020   Two citizens of Ukraine have admitted to smuggling and distributing counterfeit cancer and hepatitis drugs into the US at the Southern District Court of Texas on July 17, according to the US Department of Justice.
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28 October 2020   A Minnesota judge has approved an agreement between 3M and a former Marine, resolving a price-gouging dispute over N95 masks.

More on this story

Americas
12 May 2020   A trademark infringement complaint filed by 3M is “short on ultimate facts and long on inflammatory, derogatory, and conclusory assertions”, according to the company accused of price-gouging in the suit.
Americas
20 July 2020   Two citizens of Ukraine have admitted to smuggling and distributing counterfeit cancer and hepatitis drugs into the US at the Southern District Court of Texas on July 17, according to the US Department of Justice.
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28 October 2020   A Minnesota judge has approved an agreement between 3M and a former Marine, resolving a price-gouging dispute over N95 masks.