3M reaches $6.01 billion settlement in lawsuit filed over earplugs

3M reaches $6.01 billion settlement in lawsuit filed over earplugs

3M reaches $6.01 billion settlement in lawsuit filed over earplugs

Early Tuesday morning, officials announced a multi-billion-dollar settlement had been reached with Minnesota-based company 3M, as well as its subsidiary Aearo Technologies, after lawsuits were filed regarding safety concerns over earplugs used by current and former military members, as well as civilians.

According to the settlement agreement, the claims of all plaintiffs in state court and the 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation.

The lawsuit claims 3M created, sold and advertised defective earplugs to members of the military and consumers from 1999 to 2015, and left thousands of people with hearing loss and tinnitus.

Each person who filed a claim will have an option to enroll in a payment program based on their needs and proof of hearing damage, according to the agreement. It goes on to say that no veteran will lose health or disability benefits or have a disability rating adjusted as a result of participating in the settlement. In addition, no VA facility will be able to recover a part of a plaintiff’s award.

“This historic agreement represents a tremendous victory for the thousands of men and women who bravely served our country and returned home with life-altering hearing injuries,” said plaintiffs’ lead counsel Bryan F. Aylstock of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC and co-lead counsel Christopher A. Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP, along with Clayton Clark of Clark, Love & Hutson, PLLC who jointly led the negotiating team. “We are proud to have obtained this settlement, which ensures that those who suffered hearing damage will receive the justice and compensation they so rightly deserve.”

On Tuesday, 3M supplied the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS regarding the settlement:

“3M has reached an agreement with the court-appointed negotiating plaintiffs’ counsel to resolve the Combat Arms Earplug litigation against Aearo Technologies (Aearo) and 3M. Under the agreement, 3M will contribute a total amount of $6.0 billion between 2023 and 2029, which is structured under the agreement to include $5.0 billion in cash and $1.0 billion in 3M common stock.”

A Spokesperson for 3M

Earlier this summer, a federal judge dismissed the company’s attempt to settle the claims of defective earplugs in bankruptcy, meaning the company would be able to handle each claim on a case-by-case basis. In May, the 3M CEO was ordered by a federal judge to attend a mediation session regarding the lawsuit.

RELATED: 3M CEO to appear at mediation session over claims of defective earplugs Thursday, Friday

Last year, 3M created a $1 billion trust fund to compensate those who’ve filed defective earplug claims against them. The company said that would also allow for a quicker resolution instead of handling claims on a case-by-case basis, which 3M had previously said would take decades.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has been following the earplug litigation since 2018, when 3M paid $9 million to settle the first earplug claims from the Department of Justice. A flurry of lawsuits followed soon after.

This is the second lawsuit settled by the company this year – in June, 3M announced it had reached a $10 billion agreement in a case stemming from PFAS in drinking water. As previously reported, that money will be paid over 13 years.

Also earlier this year, former 3M executive Michael Vale was fired for inappropriate personal conduct and violating company policy. He had been with the company for more than three decades.

In April, the company announced what were called ‘restructuring actions’ and said 6,000 jobs would be cut across the world, which were in addition to the 2,500 manufacturing jobs that were cut in January.


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