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$6 Billion: 3M Settles Veteran Lawsuit Over Allegedly Defective Earplugs

3M has agreed to settle a major lawsuit brought by a quarter of a million veterans who claim they received faulty hearing protection gear for use in combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 3M Lawsuit Settlement: $6 Billion Over Allegedly Defective Hearing Protection

CBS News reports approximately a quarter million veterans are set to receive a portion of a $6 billion settlement from 3M over defective earplugs supplied to troops during combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The settlement, which amounts to approximately $24 thousand per veteran (if the funds were divided equally), is in response to a lawsuit CBS reported to be among the largest tort cases in American legal history.

Before payouts, there is an arbitration phase that determines the final payoff amounts for veterans based on the severity of their conditions.

Related: Military Benefits for Veterans and Retirees

3M Defective Earplugs Issue

According to multiple sources, from 1999 to 2015, 3M and “subsidiary companies” allegedly provided hearing protection for combat troops that did not function as advertised, resulting in hearing damage such as tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears) and hearing loss.

Before 3M agreed to the settlement, veteran lawsuits over the earplugs hit federal courts, with juries agreeing with veterans that 3M was liable for up to $50 million from a single suit.

A Large Number of Affected Veterans

More than a quarter of a million claims were filed as the result of the equipment that servicemembers claimed was defective.

  • Of the 290,000 claims, roughly 250,000 were approved.
  • According to a press release by 3M, most of those claimants agree to the settlement and will participate in it.
  • Those who do not agree to the settlement have the option to sue in court. 3M has gone on the record denying liability but wishing to settle.
  • CBS reports those who do settle will be able to claim part of “$5 billion in cash and $1 billion in 3M common stock” meant to be paid between 2023 and 2029.

It’s worth noting that while 3M has admitted no wrongdoing, it made $250 million in payments to roughly 30,000 claimants in 2023.

It is also worth noting that CBS reports any veteran who agrees to the $6 billion settlement must, as a condition of being paid through that settlement, waive any future claims against 3M.

Do you suffer from tinnitus or a related condition? You can learn more about the VA approach to these medical issues including telehealth options at the VA official site.

Related: Military Benefits for Veterans and Retirees


About the author


Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.