OAN’s Brooke Mallory
2:00 PM – Tuesday, August 29, 2023
In order to settle nearly 300,000 cases, 3M has agreed to pay $6 billion. The complaints claimed that the manufacturer gave the military substandard combat earplugs, which led to serious ailments, including hearing loss.
In a press statement, representatives from 3M stated that the settlement is “not an admission of liability” and that it will be paid out over a period of years in the form of $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in shares.
“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,” 3M said.
From 2003 through 2015, the U.S. military purchased earplugs from the company for training and battle.
Service members claimed that the faulty 3M earplugs led to tinnitus and even hearing loss, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article from 2021.
The earplugs were produced by Aearo Technologies, a business that the company acquired in 2008.
Aearo attempted to declare bankruptcy last year in an effort to cover its debts and reduce risk. However, a judge dismissed it this summer after stating that “allowing an otherwise financially healthy debtor with no impending solvency issues to remain in bankruptcy… exceeds the boundaries of the court’s limited jurisdiction.”
According to 3M, the deal will result in a pre-tax charge for the third quarter of 2023 of almost $4.2 billion.
Investors anticipated the settlement to be substantially higher, according to the WSJ, which is why shares closed 5% higher on Monday.
This is the second sizable lawsuit settlement this summer for 3M.
The firm also said in June that it would provide up to $10.3 billion over 13 years to American public water suppliers that have found its harmful “forever chemicals” in local water systems.
In order to create coatings that repel water, grease, and oil, polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), typically referred to as “forever chemicals,” are utilized in hundreds of household goods, including cosmetics and carpets.
Following thousands of lawsuits alleging that 3M knew PFAS caused cancer, developmental deformities, and other health issues, as well as that the chemicals polluted American drinking water systems, the company was forced to reach a settlement.
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