3M nears $5.5 billion settlement over defective military earplugs: reports

3M Co. is nearing agreement on a $5.5 billion settlement over defective earplugs, according to reports Sunday.

Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal reported the company is close to settling more than 300,000 lawsuits stemming from defective combat earplugs that did not sufficiently protect thousands of military veterans from hearing loss.

The proposed $5.5 billion settlement by 3M

and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies is considerably less than the roughly $10 billion that experts had predicted 3M could be liable for, according to the reports. The case has grown to the largest mass tort in U.S. history.

Aearo filed for bankruptcy in July 2022 as it sought to resolve the litigation against it. According to the Journal, 3M’s board has yet to vote on the settlement proposal.

In July, 3M reported adjusted quarterly profit that beat expectations, thanks to a $10.3 billion charge for a proposed settlement over “forever chemicals” in drinking water.

3M shares have sunk 17% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s
15% gain.

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