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3M sues over another company's marked-up offer to New York City of N95 masks

3M, the largest maker of N95 face masks in the country, has sued another company for offering to sell New York City overpriced N95 masks for $45 million. By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) -- 3M, the largest maker of N95 face masks in the country, has sued another company for offering to sell New York City overpriced N95 masks for $45 million.

3M claims the company, New Jersey-based Performance Supply, wasn't authorized to distribute the masks, and had attempted to inflate the price of the masks at a more than 500% markup for New York.

Performance Supply had offered them to the city on March 30 -- when the number of coronavirus cases had skyrocketed and hospitals struggled to give their workers protective equipment. The price: more than $6 a mask, according to the lawsuit. 3M sells the masks at a list price of just over $1.

3M called Performance Supply's offer to New York "extreme price-gouging," according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan on Friday.

Though the case reads like a fairly standard trademark and false advertising case, it highlights widespread alleged price gouging that's popped up throughout the country since the national emergency began. The company's legal action dovetails with pushes from federal authorities and state governments to crack down on price gouging and other alleged fraud during the coronavirus pandemic.

Performance Supply has not yet responded to the allegations in court.

"3M has not increased the prices that it charges for 3M respirators as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Unfortunately, any number of wrongdoers seek to exploit the current public health emergency and prey on innocent parties through a variety of scams involving 3M N95 respirators and other products in high demand," 3M wrote in the complaint.

"Unsavory characters continue their quests to take advantage of healthcare workers, first responders, and others in a time of need and trade off the fame of the 3M brand and marks. Defendant is a prime example of this unlawful behavior."

If the company wins damages in the lawsuit, 3M said it will donate them to charities working on Covid-19 relief, the complaint said.

In the lawsuit, 3M said it has supplied health care workers with 10 million N95 masks in the last week of March, and is planning on being able to make 1.1 billion masks a year.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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