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3M commences disbursement of payments to veterans in $6bn earplug settlement

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3M, the multinational conglomerate, has initiated the disbursement of $253 million in payments to over 30,000 U.S. military service members and veterans who asserted that the company’s earplugs resulted in hearing loss. This payment, part of a broader $6 billion settlement, is slated to reach recipients by the end of January, marking a substantial milestone in the resolution of a protracted legal dispute.

The settlement, announced on Monday, signifies the conclusion of a more than five-year legal battle between 3M and veterans who alleged experiencing hearing impairments, including tinnitus, after using the combat earplugs in close proximity to small arms, heavy artillery, and rockets. In a unique stipulation, recipients of the payments will forego any future legal claims against 3M, as detailed on the settlement website.

Bryan Aylstock, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, expressed satisfaction with 3M’s decision to expedite these payments, stating, “We are pleased with 3M’s decision to move up this payment and appreciate its commitment to the resolution of these claims.” The accelerated disbursement could prompt more of the 276,000 claimants involved in the lawsuit against 3M to consider opting into the settlement instead of pursuing lengthy trials, according to the Star Tribune.

The exact amount each individual claimant will receive remains undisclosed. However, it is notable that under the settlement terms, 3M is committed to disbursing a total of $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in 3M common stock to claimants between 2023 and 2029. This comprehensive resolution plan also included a prior disbursement of $250 million in payments to approximately 30,000 claimants in December of the preceding year.

Despite the positive development, 3M has not provided an immediate response to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment, leaving certain details surrounding the settlement yet to be clarified. The ongoing disbursements and the forthcoming resolution of claims underscore 3M’s commitment to addressing the concerns raised by military service members and veterans affected by the use of its earplugs.

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