3M’s $6 Billion Settlement: Resolving Litigation with U.S. Military Veterans and Service Members

In a landmark legal agreement, 3M has committed to pay a staggering $6 billion to resolve extensive litigation initiated by U.S. military veterans, service members, and commercial users. These legal actions were directed not only against 3M itself but also against its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies.

The cause of these lawsuits? Faulty earplugs produced by 3M, known as the Combat Arms Earplug (“CAEv2”), which resulted in hearing loss and other severe injuries among users. This article delves into the details of this monumental settlement and its implications.

3M Settlement with Military and veterans.

The Background


What are the Combat Arms Earplugs?

The Combat Arms Earplugs, or CAEv2, were designed to offer hearing protection to military personnel during training and combat situations. These dual-ended, triple-flanged earplugs provided users with two distinct options for hearing protection, depending on which end they wore. On paper, they seemed like a practical solution to safeguard the hearing of those serving in the U.S. military.

The Scope of Litigation

The litigation surrounding the CAEv2 earplugs was massive, with nearly 250,000 lawsuits filed by military service members, veterans, and commercial users. These individuals alleged audiological-related injuries including hearing loss stemming from the use of the earplugs, claiming that the products failed to provide adequate protection, leading to hearing impairment and other health issues.

The Resolution


Mediation Process

To resolve this extensive and complex litigation, 3M engaged in a mediation process. The result of this process is the groundbreaking agreement that promises to put an end to the legal battles. Notably, 3M has stated that this agreement is structured to encourage participation by claimants and aims to settle all claims associated with the Combat Arms Earplug products.

Financial Terms

Under the terms of the settlement, 3M has committed to paying $6 billion, with disbursements scheduled between 2023 and 2029. This financial arrangement comprises $5.0 billion in cash and an additional $1.0 billion in 3M common stock. This substantial sum underscores the gravity of the situation and 3M’s commitment to resolving the claims without admitting liability.

Aearo Technologies’ Involvement

It’s important to note that Aearo Technologies, a wholly-owned subsidiary of 3M, was responsible for developing the CAEv2 earplugs in 2008. These earplugs were subsequently used by the U.S. military for training and combat purposes from 2003 to 2015. Aearo Technologies’ role in the production and distribution of the earplugs has been a key point of contention in the litigation.

Implications and Further Reading


The Significance of the Settlement

This $6 billion settlement is not only substantial in monetary terms but also has far-reaching implications for product liability and the responsibilities of manufacturers. It serves as a reminder of the importance of delivering safe and effective products, especially when they are intended for use by those who serve in high-risk environments.

Exploring More

For those interested in delving deeper into this matter, additional information can be found in articles like “Jury Awards $22.5M to Plaintiff in 3M Military Earplug Case,” which provide further insights into the legal proceedings and outcomes related to the CAEv2 earplugs.


In conclusion, the $6 billion settlement between 3M and the claimants, which includes U.S. military veterans, service members, and commercial users, marks a significant milestone in the world of product liability litigation. While 3M has not admitted liability, this resolution underscores the importance of ensuring the safety and effectiveness of products intended for use by those who serve their country.

By taking a proactive approach to addressing the claims and reaching this substantial settlement, 3M has taken a significant step toward resolving a complex and contentious legal matter.

3M has agreed to pay $6 billion to resolve litigation by U.S. military veterans and service members against the company and Aearo Technologies—a wholly-owned subsidiary of 3M—for faulty earplugs produced by the company that resulted in hearing loss or other serious injuries, reports the Associated Press.

3M will resolve nearly 250,000 lawsuits, without any admission of liability, in the multidistrict litigation filed by United States military service members, veterans, and commercial users, alleging audiological-related injuries from the use of the Combat Arms Earplug (“CAEv2”) for hearing protection. 

The CAEv2 was a dual-ended, triple-flanged earplug designed to provide two different options for hearing protection, depending on which end was worn, according to litigation documents.

“This agreement, reached through the mediation process that 3M has previously disclosed, is structured to promote participation by claimants and is intended to resolve all claims associated with the Combat Arms Earplug products,” 3M announced in a release.

Under the agreement, $6 billion from 3M will be paid out between 2023 and 2029, which is structured under the agreement to include $5.0 billion in cash and $1.0 billion in 3M common stock.

The earplugs were developed by Aearo Technologies in 2008, reports Reuters. The earplugs were used by U.S. military in training and combat from 2003 to 2015.

Further reading: Jury Awards $22.5M to Plaintiff in 3M Military Earplug Case

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