A Rhode Island-based packaging and container company alleges W.B. Mason Co., Inc. has put public health at risk by selling counterfeit N95 respirator masks represented as genuine 3M products.
The 20-page proposed class action alleges the office supplies retailer has deceived and misled consumers by misusing the 3M trademark on the counterfeit masks—which bear the model number 1860—and effectively “trading on the goodwill of a reputable manufacturer” by selling costly respirators that may not live up to the 95-percent particle filtration rate offered by the real thing.
“Defendant’s actions have exploited the current health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic by preying upon unsuspecting Consumers who have been deceived, defrauded, and misled into purchasing Defendant’s Counterfeit Masks,” the case, filed in Massachusetts federal court, alleges. “Defendant has taken advantage of the unusually high demand for respirator products by selling them at inflated prices.”
Per the lawsuit, the origins of the counterfeit N95 masks sold by W.B. Mason are “entirely unknown,” and the products’ efficacy cannot be determined by consumers without “detailed, sophisticated, and expensive testing.”
“Defendant’s actions have exploited the current health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic by preying upon unsuspecting Consumers who have been deceived, defrauded, and misled into purchasing Defendant’s Counterfeit Masks,” the complaint claims.
According to the lawsuit, the two packages of N95 facemasks purchased by the plaintiff bear a “circular silver reflective seal” that displays “3M Peru S.A.” or “3M MN, USA,” and show the distinctive 3M trademark and lot number B20018. The plaintiff claims to have paid $175 for each 20-count package of facemasks.
The suit says, however, that a portion of a counterfeit notification letter 3M posted to its website specifies which lot codes should match model number 1860 products, and explains what images to look out for on the packaging to determine whether the respirators are genuine. In the document, 3M specifically says to look out for packages that display a circular silver reflective label that states “3M Peru S.A.” on the top panel, which will indicate that the product is counterfeit, the lawsuit says. 3M’s counterfeit notice also mentions lot number B20018, the case relays.
Per the 3M counterfeit notification, the company does not use a “Peru Seal” or other similar seals or import products with the model number 1860 from other countries.
In a separate document, 3M lists the prices by model of its N95 respirator masks, the case goes on. According to that document, real N95 masks matching the model number bought by the plaintiff should cost $1.27 each, as opposed to the $6.75 the company says it paid per counterfeit mask. According to the lawsuit, the 3M counterfeit notification letter confirms that the respirator products purchased by the plaintiff are fake and were sold unlawfully at inflated prices.
“Plaintiff purchased each Counterfeit Mask from Defendant for five hundred eighty-nine percent (589%) greater than, or almost six (6) times greater than, 3M’s list price for each Genuine Mask,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit looks to represent all consumers nationwide who bought from W.B. Mason an N95 respirator product with an 1860 model number.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.