3M revealed on Tuesday that it will pay $6 billion to U.S. service members. They claimed hearing loss and injuries after using the company’s faulty earplugs. The payment will consist of $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in stock. It will be completed in installments by 2029.
Numerous veterans and serving members brought lawsuits against 3M and Aearo Technologies. The dispute revolved around the SPearo’s Combat Arms Earplugs, acquired by 3M in 2008. The users claimed the earplugs had a defective design. Consequently, they loosened slightly, causing hearing damage.
Before this agreement, 3M settled a case for $9.1 million for the U.S. government. And since 2019, the firm lost 10 of 16 points, resulting in millions of dollars in compensation. But in this recent announcement, 3M stated that this agreement wasn’t an affirmation of liability. And they emphasized that their products were safe when used correctly.
In the past, 3M has attempted to limit liability in the earplug lawsuits through bankruptcy court. Aearo, as a separate entity, filed for bankruptcy in 2022. It took on the claims, but the U.S. bankruptcy court dismissed the filing.
Besides the earplug lawsuit, 3M agreed to pay roughly $10.3 billion in June. It was to settle legal disputes over the contamination of public drinking water systems. Yet, some attorneys general argued that it let 3M off too quickly. They felt the settlement needed more time for individual water suppliers to assess their compensation.
After a few modifications made by 3M to the agreements, most of the attorneys general withdrew their opposition. However, five attorneys general expressed concerns over the settlement’s amount and timeline. According to them, it does not adequately reflect the damage caused by 3M to public drinking water systems.