CLEVLEAND — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost recently filed a lawsuit against Mario Salwan claiming the Chagrin Falls man sold N95 masks for 18 times retail value. A new settlement has led to Salwan refunding more than $15,000 to those who bought the masks from him. Salwan will also reimburse the state $1,500 as part of investigative costs and give 570 N95 masks to first responders and health care professionals.
“We will continue to make sure no one unjustly profits by exploiting the anxiety of others during this pandemic,” said AG Yost. “The settlement will provide essential equipment to the heroes —our doctors and nurses — who need it the most.”
As part of the settlement, Salwan admits no liability. He did say, in part, “I am sorry I did this. My intent was not to hurt anyone.”
Here’s his full statement:
Yesterday, I reached an amicable agreement with the Ohio Attorney General’s office resolving the Ohio Attorney General’s complaint, which incorrectly alleged that I amassed a large quantity of N-95 masks at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to sell them online at an excessive price.
I continue to maintain that there was no factual or legal basis for this complaint. However, I wanted to do the right thing right away, to put an end to this matter and to get masks into the hands of health care workers. So I have chosen to take the following actions:
•Issue a full refund to everyone who bought the subject N-95 masks. Everyone receiving refunds may keep the masks I sent them.
•Transfer 570 of the remaining N-95 masks I originally purchased for my construction business to the state for distribution to Ohio health care workers.
•Remit a one-time $1,500 payment to the state for its investigation.
•Retain only 80N-95 masks for my worker’s safety for use on job sites.
Yesterday’s agreement, as approved by the Attorney General’s office, expressly states that there is no admission of liability.
My company uses N-95 masks as basic personal protection for workers when working with construction dust from concrete sanding. The masks are used on nearly all jobs.
My company originally purchased 2,800 N-95 masks in March 2019, well before the discovery of the coronavirus and used most of those masks on job sites over the past year. Once business slowed due to the coronavirus, I tried to get the masks I had purchased over a year ago into the hands of people who wanted them at a price that the market determined –and nothing more. I offered N-95 masks for sale to willing buyers to help keep my business afloat.
I am sorry I did this. My intent was not to hurt anyone.
I applaud Governor DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton for their work to stop the spread of coronavirus and I am glad to help the Governor and Dr. Acton’s efforts in my contribution of the masks through the resolution of this matter. And above all, I salute healthcare workers on the front lines who risk their lives to help patients suffering from COVID-19.