3M has reached a $6 billion settlement to end more than 260,000 claims involving military earplugs that failed to prevent hearing loss.
The litigation involved Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2) that were made by Aearo Technologies, a company that 3M bought in 2008.
The earplugs became standard issue to military service-members between 2003 and 2015, including thousands of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The lawsuits claim that 3M hid design flaws with the earplugs, which plaintiffs claimed could loosen and slide out of the ear canal, leading to hearing damage and persistent ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
Most of the lawsuits were centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in Florida, which quickly became the largest mass-tort litigation in U.S. history.
Sixteen cases went to trial in the MDL. Of those cases, 3M lost 10 trials and was ordered to pay $265 million by juries.
3M continues to insist the earplugs were “safe and effective if used properly” and said the settlement is not an admission of liability.