3M Co. Thursday filed a lawsuit against a group of former distributors alleging that they submitted false rebate claims and point-of-sale information that resulted in their illegally collecting more than $2.5 million from the Maplewood-based company.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, accuses the firms doing business as Universal Medical Distributors of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), as well as fraud, civil conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract.

The suit says 3M discovered the improper claims and information from Universal Medical after an audit in January and that the company's CEO, Kenneth Leventhal, later admitted submitting the false information to 3M.

3M is seeking damages that are triple the amount of the funds received by Universal Medica on the RICO violations. 3M also is seeking unspecified damages on the other allegations.

Representatives of Universal Medical could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723