More than 249,000 veterans will receive part of the $6 billion lawsuit settlement against 3M as part of the Combat Arms Earplug settlement announced in 2023, corporate officials announced.

The figure represents more than 99% of all of the claimants who filed suit against the manufacturing company, accusing them of causing hearing damage in troops through faulty production of military-grade hearing protection.

The earplugs, produced by Aearo Technologies before that company was bought by 3M in 2008, were sold from 1999 to 2015 and used extensively by troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other locations.

The high-profile legal fight has been grinding through courts for years, with a handful of individual claimants winning their cases against the company. In summer 2023, attorneys involved in a class-action lawsuit against the company announced plans to end all outstanding action against 3M if at least 98% of claimants agreed to the $6 billion settlement.

Of the nearly 300,000 cases filed against the company, more than 41,000 were thrown out by the court overseeing the agreement, 3M officials said. Those dismissals allowed lawyers to meet the threshold for triggering the agreement.

3M, based in Minnesota, has not acknowledged flaws with the earplugs.

In past statements, officials from the company have said the equipment is safe and effective “when used properly.”

Veterans involved in the lawsuit will see payouts between now and 2029. Exact amounts will depend on the severity of their injuries, but the total payouts 3M will be liable for will not exceed $6 billion.

In summer 2023, 3M reached a separate $10 billion settlement with numerous municipalities to resolve pending claims over the company’s alleged contamination of drinking water systems through their manufacturing processes.

More information on the settlement is available through an information site set up by the company.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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