3M Makes Deal With Ex-Marine Over Massive N95 Mask Scam

By Craig Clough
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Law360 (October 27, 2020, 10:21 PM EDT) -- A Minnesota federal judge on Tuesday approved an agreement between 3M and a former Marine accused of attempting to orchestrate a massive scheme to sell nonexistent N95 respirators, issuing a consent judgment and permanent injunction preventing the defendant from representing that he is connected to the company.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said in her order that the parties have stipulated to the agreement, which includes that Matthew Starsiak and his company AMK Energy Services LLC are permanently enjoined from using the 3M marks or claiming any connection to the company.

The order also says the defendants must "promptly and immediately destroy any unauthorized goods and materials within the possession, custody, and control of defendants that bear, feature, and/or contain any copy or colorable imitation of 3M's marks."

3M, a supplier of N95 masks, accused Starsiak and his company in June of approaching it with an offer to buy 900 billion respirators on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Elon Musk and Richard Branson to be donated to African populations, even though "virtually nothing" he told 3M turned out to be true.

According to the lawsuit, after being rejected by 3M, Starsiak quickly turned around and used the names of 3M's top lawyers, which he learned through the interaction, to bolster his credentials with other companies as a 3M distributor in an effort to perpetrate scams.

The company was scathing in its description of Starsiak, calling him "a con man who trades on his military service to deceive others so he can take their money," while suggesting his company is a total sham.

3M said in June that in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it has invested in an effort to double its annual production of 1.1 billion N95 respirators, but has not raised its prices. The company noted in the lawsuit that the cost of 900 billion masks would be $1.143 trillion, which is "more than thirty-six times 3M's total annual revenues" and would also "represent hundreds of years of 3M's N95 respirator production."

Starsiak boasted on phone calls with 3M executives about his extensive and high-level military experience, 3M said, alleging that he claimed among other things to have ran the "air war" in Iraq and Afghanistan for the U.S. Marine Corps. Starsiak's company also falsely claims a Manhattan address on its website when it is based out of a single-family home in Utah, falsely claims to be represented by the international law firm Dentons and fraudulently claims to have thousands of employees and dozens of locations around the world, 3M said in the lawsuit.

In response to the suit, Starsiak told the court his business dealings with 3M over an attempted N95 deal were "ultimately fruitless," and because he conducted no business transactions with Minnesota-based 3M, the suit should be dismissed.

Jennifer Ehrlich, a spokesperson for 3M, told Law360 in an email on Wednesday that "3M has taken action that ended this harmful N95 scam and the defendant's attempt to profiteer during the pandemic using 3M's name."

"We will continue to take legal action to stop and deter fraud involving critical 3M products," Ehrlich added.

Counsel for Starsiak did not respond to a request for comment.

3M is represented by Peter W. Baldwin of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

Starsiak is represented by Robert W. Vaccaro and Timothy R. Schupp of Meagher & Geer PLLP.

The case is 3M Co. v. Matthew Starsiak et al., case number 0:20-cv-01314, in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

--Editing by Nicole Bleier.

Update: This story has been updated with a comment from 3M's spokesperson.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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Case Information

Case Title

3M Company v. Starsiak et al


Case Number

0:20-cv-01314

Court

Minnesota

Nature of Suit

Trademark

Judge

Susan Richard Nelson

Date Filed

June 05, 2020

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