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3M Battles Illicit PPE Market

July 16, 2020
Company files suit against counterfeit producers and distributors.

As consumers, employers and workers look to protect themselves with critical personal protective equipment, manufacturers such as 3M place their efforts on combating the counterfeit market.

The company has been working in conjunction with law enforcement and ecommerce companies to remove illicit N95 respirators from online stores.

3M's Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Denise Rutherford commented on the efforts in a statement, saying, "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.”

With a continued nationwide shortage of N95 respirators, Rutherford mentioned 3M's commitment to rapidly increase production of essential PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of the creation of informant hotlines and websites, the company's litigation task force has investigated and pursued more than 4,000 reports of fraud, counterfeiting and price gouging. It has filed 18 lawsuits in 10 states and Canada, according to a recent report. Referrals to federal state and law enforcement agencies has produced criminal action against "several bad actors."

In addition, more than 7,000 websites offering counterfeit products have been removed. 

3M provided details on significant cases it has successfully litigated:

  • Civil Action No. 20-cv-01371- A lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota against Legacy Medical Supplies, LLC, Mark Eckhardt, Carol Ann Korpi, Joseph Nelson and Jeremy Reboulet for claiming affiliation with 3M including misleading potential buyers that they had a direct relationship with 3M’s chief financial officer to get special access to 3M products. This was false. Two defendants quickly settled the claims against them, and the court entered a temporary restraining order against the remaining defendants on July 14, 2020. 
  • Cause No. DC-20-05549 - 3M amended its complaint in Dallas County previously filed as a “John Doe” complaint, naming Michael Gilbert as the party claiming to operate as the “3M Company Trust Account” (in fact a mailbox at a UPS Store). 
  • Civil Action No. 0:20-cv-01314 - The company filed suit and won a temporary restraining order in the case against Matthew Starsiak and AMK Energy in federal court in Minnesota; the defendants falsely claimed to be affiliated with (among others) 3M, the Gates Foundation and the law firm Dentons to attempt to deceive buyers into purchasing billions of fictitious 3M N95 respirators. 
  • Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-01287- A case in federal court in Indiana against ZeroAqua and its owner, including the grant of a consent judgment ensuring no additional infringement and a payment that will be donated to Direct Relief, as well as assistance identifying other bad actors and an apology to the state of Indiana.
  • Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-029323M- This action resolved a case in federal court in Ohio against Preventative Wellness Consultants LLC d/b/a Preventative Wellness Solutions, which was identified by through pending litigation with Rx2Live, Inc. and Rx2Live, LLC. Preventative Wellness falsely claimed to provide “direct” access to 3M respiratory products when it is not an authorized distributor. In resolving the case, Preventative Wellness has agreed to a consent judgment preventing further infringement as well as a payment that will be donated by 3M to Direct Relief.
  • Court File No. CV-20-28903- Toronto, Canada-based Caonic must make a payment that will be donated by 3M Canada to United Way Centraide Canada. 
  • Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-394- A consent judgment and payment finalizes a matter in Wisconsin federal court with Hulomil LLC. A payment will be donated to Direct Relief, as well as assistance identifying other bad actors. 

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