3M Lawsuit Settlement, Agrees to $253M Payout for Veterans’ Earplug-Related Hearing Loss

3M Settles Lawsuit, Agrees to $253M Payout for Veterans' Earplug-Related Hearing Loss

3M has commenced the disbursement of payments with $253 million under a $6 billion settlement against around 240,000 lawsuits filed in various courts, alleging that the manufacturer supplied faulty combat earplugs to servicemen, resulting in various ear ailments such as loss of hearing and tinnitus. However, how can faulty earplugs end up in the US Army inventory when so many checks and counterchecks are in place? Read on to learn how the 3M Company manipulated the rules to earn hefty profits at the expense of users’ health.

Earplugs are used by servicemen to prevent damage to the eardrums, especially when practicing shooting at the shooting range. Earplugs are also used by workers in industries where noise levels are very high. Strict standards must be met by manufacturers, and they are checked by independent standard enforcement agencies.

3M subsidiary Aero Technologies manufactured the earplugs and sold them to the US Army from 1999 to 2015. The earplugs had to adhere to strict guidelines set by the American National Standards Institute. However, it is alleged that 3M manipulated the test procedures by using its laboratories for testing. The Noise Reduction Ratio should be 22, but the earplugs manufactured by 3M had a ratio of 10.9, almost half the required standard.

The substandard earplugs led to hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition in which the person always hears a ringing sound, leading to loss of concentration, sleep deprivation, and several psychological issues. More than 30,000 active army personnel and veterans will receive damages from the $253 million settlement.

The company is facing an overall $6 billion lawsuit filed on behalf of around 240,000 serving army personnel and veterans who allege they suffered hearing loss due to faulty earplugs.

3M’s Disbursement of $253 Million Settlement

3M in an official statement has stated that it will “accelerate the payment ($253.1 million) on or before Jan 31, 2024.”

Earlier, 3M had proposed to pay the money between 2023 and 2029, with $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in 3M stocks.

Aearo, 3M’s subsidiary, had earlier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but its request was turned down by the judge in June, who stated that the financial health of the company was excellent.

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