3M's Huge Settlement
3M agreed to pay $6.01 billion to resolve nearly 260,000 lawsuits from U.S. military members alleging hearing loss from the company's earplugs.
Not the First Attempt
Earlier this year, 3M tried to move these lawsuits into bankruptcy court to limit liability – an attempt that failed.
The compensation will be dispersed mainly over the forthcoming five years
3M Stock Rises
3M's shares rose by 5% upon reports suggesting an approaching settlement
Some analysts had earlier projected 3M's possible liability from this litigation to reach a staggering $10 billion.
The Earplugs in Question
Made by Aearo Technologies (acquired by 3M in 2008), these earplugs were used by the U.S. military in training and combat between 2003 and 2015
Accusations Against 3M
Plaintiffs argue 3M concealed design flaws, manipulated test results, and failed to provide proper earplug usage instructions, leading to hearing impairment
By 2019, these lawsuits were merged under U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in Pensacola, Florida.
The consolidated litigation represented around 30% of all U.S. federal court cases at its peak.
Of 16 earplug lawsuits that went to trial, 3M lost 10, resulting in a total award of $265 million to 13 plaintiffs.
Aearo declared bankruptcy in 2022, with 3M setting aside $1 billion to cover liabilities from these lawsuits.
Recent 3M Settlement
Just two months ago, 3M proposed a $10.3 billion deal with U.S. public water systems over water pollution claims. This settlement isn't finalized, with 22 U.S. states and territories challenging its adequacy.