One of the defendants claimed to have up to 5 billion respirators, the company said. None of the defendants is connected to 3M, nor had access to the respirators they tried to sell officials in Florida, Wisconsin and Indiana at highly inflated prices, according to the Maplewood, Minn.-based company.
3M filed the lawsuits in federal courts in Florida, Wisconsin and Indiana. The company said that it has not changed the prices it charges for respirators as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and won a temporary restraining order last month in a separate case.
“We are grateful that in each of these cases, the false offers were reported to 3M, and the attempts to deceive public officials did not succeed,” said Ivan Fong, 3M SVP & general counsel, in a news release. “We will continue to take legal action in cases like these and are working closely with national and international law enforcement to help stop the perpetrators of these unlawful and unethical schemes.”
In the following four cases filed late Thursday, and the Wisconsin lawsuit filed on Tuesday, 3M is seeking injunctive relief to require the companies to cease alleged illegal activities:
- In federal court in Tallahassee, Fla., 3M sued Atlanta, Ga.-based 1 Ignite Capital LLC, Institutional Financial Sales LLC, and Auta Lopes for allegedly attempting to sell 10 million N95 respirators to the Florida Division of Emergency Management at nearly 460% over list prices, and for falsely claiming that they were working with 3M.
- In federal court in Tampa, Fla., 3M sued St. Petersburg, Fla.-based TAC2 Global LLC for allegedly trying to sell the Florida Department of Management Services State Emergency Operations Center 5 million to 10 million N95 respirators and hand sanitizer at highly inflated prices. TAC2 falsely claimed to be a 3M supplier, according to 3M.
- In federal court in Orlando, Fla., 3M sued King Law Center, Chartered for twice allegedly pretending to be affiliated with 3M as a vendor and escrow agent and for trying to sell the Florida Department of Management Services State Emergency Operation Center 5 million N95 respirators at 460% over list prices.
- In federal court in Indianapolis, 3M sued Zachary Puznak and two related entities, Zenger LLC and ZeroAqua, after Puznak allegedly claimed to be working with 3M and purported to be able to sell up to 5 billion 3M respirators to the state of Indiana at more than double the list price. Puznak accused Indiana’s state employees of “paranoid irrationality” for asking for confirmation of any connection to 3M and falsely claimed 3M executives had told him to abandon the deal, according to 3M’s complaint. 3M said that Puznak has no connection to the company.
- On April 28, 2020, 3M filed a lawsuit in federal court in Madison, Wis., against Hulomil LLC for allegedly trying to sell 250,000 N95 respirators to state officials at inflated prices, while trying to force Wisconsin to sign a nondisclosure agreement about the deal and falsely claiming to have “direct access from 3M.”
The company filed a total of 10 such lawsuits in April and said it will donate any damages recovered to COVID-19-related nonprofit organizations.