3M to Pay $6B to Settle Military Earplug Lawsuits - Modern Distribution Management

Log In

3M to Pay $6B to Settle Military Earplug Lawsuits

The news follows 3M's failed attempt to move the biggest mass tort lawsuit in U.S. history into bankruptcy court to limit its liability.
3m on paper texture

In a settlement agreement announced Aug. 29, Minnesota-based manufacturer 3M has agreed to pay $6 billion to resolve lawsuits filed by U.S. service members who said their earplugs caused them hearing loss or other injuries.

The settlement will be paid with $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in stock from 3M, and will be paid in installments through 2029. The agreement winds down one of the largest mass torts in U.S. history, the Associated Press reported.

The agreement is structured to “promote participation by claimants and is intended to resolve all claims” associated with the company’s Combat Arms Earplug products, 3M said in a news release. The deal also includes all claims in the multi-district litigation in Florida and in the coordinated state court action in Minnesota, as well as potential future claims.

“This agreement is not an admission of liability,” 3M said in a statement. “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.”

The lawsuits accused 3M and its subsidiary, Indianapolis-based Aearo Technologies, of selling faulty combat earplugs that damaged the hearing of veterans who used them. 3M planned to resolve the lawsuits by putting Aearo into bankruptcy, where controversial rules sometimes allow parent companies to benefit by halting jury trials and settle their lawsuits.

That plan fell through Aug. 26, however, when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey J. Graham refused to temporarily halt the lawsuits against 3M and Aearo.

The ear plugs settlement is just the latest bout of litigation for the manufacturer.

In June, 3M said it would pay up to $12.5 billion to settle an environmental lawsuit brought by cities that claimed the chemicals in the firefighting foam provided to them contaminated drinking water. The company announced that the settlement would provide funding to public water suppliers nationwide that have detected PFAS in drinking water and other public water suppliers that may detect the chemicals in the future, for treatment technologies.

In August, 3M said it had agreed to pay more than $6.5 million to resolve charges that it violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The SEC order found that employees of a 3M wholly owned subsidiary based in China arranged for Chinese government officials employed by state-owned healthcare facilities to attend overseas conferences, educational events, and healthcare facility visits as part of marketing and outreach efforts.

Related Posts

Share this article

About the Author
Recommended Reading
Leave a Reply

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for the MDM Update Newsletter

The MDM update newsletter is your best source for news and trends in the wholesale distribution industry.

Get the MDM Update Newsletter

Wholesale distribution news and trends delivered right to your inbox.

Sign-up for our free newsletter and get:

  • Up-to-date news in a quick-to-read format
  • Free access to webcasts, podcasts and live events
  • Exclusive whitepapers, research and reports
  • And more!


articles left

Want more Premium content from MDM?

Subscribe today and get:

  • New issues twice each month
  • Unlimited access to mdm.com, including 10+ years of archived data
  • Current trends analysis, market data and economic updates
  • Discounts on select store products and events

Subscribe to continue reading

MDM Premium Subscribers get:

  • Unlimited access to MDM.com
  • 1 year digital subscription, with new issues twice a month
  • Trends analysis, market data and quarterly economic updates
  • Deals on select store products and events



You have one free article remaining

Subscribe to MDM Premium to get unlimited access. Your subscription includes:

  • Two new issues a month
  • Access to 10+ years of archived data on mdm.com
  • Quarterly economic updates, trends analysis and market data
  • Store and event discounts

To continue reading, you must be an MDM Premium subscriber.

Join other distribution executives who use MDM Premium to optimize their business. Our insights and analysis help you enter the right new markets, turbocharge your sales and marketing efforts, identify business partners that help you scale, and stay ahead of your competitors.

Register for full access

By providing your email, you agree to receive announcements from us and our partners for our newsletter, events, surveys, and partner resources per MDM Terms & Conditions. You can withdraw consent at any time.

Learn More about Custom Reports

Request a Market Prospector Demo

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.