3M Agrees To Pay Out $6 Billion Over Ear Plugs

Multinational manufacturing company 3M agreed Tuesday to pay out $6 billion to settle over 250,000 lawsuits alleging that earplugs the company supplied to the U.S. military were faulty and led to hearing loss.

The earplugs, which the military used for training and combat from 2003 and 2015, were manufactured by Aearo Technologies, a company acquired by 3M in 2008, CNN reported. After veterans began complaining of hearing loss, many filed lawsuits against the company alleging that design flaws, lack of instructions and fudged test results led to their hearing damage, CNBC reported.

The lawsuits, collectively known as the Combat Arms Earplug litigation, were consolidated before U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in Pensacola, Florida, federal court in 2019 and accounted for about 30 percent of all federal court cases nationwide, the outlet noted.

Though 3M maintains their settlement “is not an admission of liability,” it has agreed to pay out $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in stock between 2023 and 2029. (RELATED: 3M To Pay $10.3 Billion In Settlement Of Lawsuits Over Allegedly Poisoning Water Systems)

“This agreement, reached through the mediation process that 3M has previously disclosed, is structured to promote participation by claimants and is intended to resolve all claims associated with the Combat Arms Earplug products,” the company stated in its release. “The products at issue in this litigation are safe and effective when used properly. 3M is prepared to continue to defend itself in the litigation if certain agreed terms of the settlement agreement are not fulfilled.”