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3M to pay out billions in earplug lawsuit


3M to pay out billions in earplug lawsuit

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3M is sending $253 million in payments to thousands of U.S. military service members and veterans who allege the conglomerate’s earplugs left them with hearing loss. 

More than 30,000 service members and vets will receive the payouts, which are part of a larger $6 billion settlement, by the end of January, the company said Monday. In return, those receiving the money will forfeit future legal claims against 3M, according to the settlement website. 

The settlement resolves a more than five-year legal battle between 3M and vets, who claimed they experienced hearing loss and tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears, after using the combat ear plugs in close proximity to small arms, heavy artillery and rockets. 

“We are pleased with 3M’s decision to move up this payment and appreciate its commitment to the resolution of these claims,” Bryan Aylstock, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said Tuesday in a statement to the Star Tribune.

More of the 276,000 claimants who are part of a lawsuit against 3M may soon opt into the settlement instead of going to trial, according to the Star Tribune. It remains unclear how much each individual claimant will receive under the payouts. 

3M did not immediately respond to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment. 

Under the settlement, 3M will ultimately shell out $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in 3M common stock to claimants between 2023 and 2029. As part of that agreement, the company also issued $250 million in payments to roughly 30,000 claimants last December.

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