From 1999 to 2015, 3M and/or its subsidiaries produced and sold Combat Arms Earplugs (CAE) to the United States Military. It is alleged that these earplugs were defective, thus causing hearing loss and tinnitus.
Plaintiffs and 3M reached an agreement worth $6.01 billion dollars to resolve litigation against 3M and its subsidiaries. This will resolve all earplug related claims in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) and in Minnesota state court.
No. 3M vehemently denies liability and contends that these earplugs are not defective and were all times safe for their intended use.
Any person with a Combat Arms Earplug (CAE) claim, including, but not limited to, claims filed in a complaint or dismissed without prejudice in the MDL or the coordinated Minnesota state court (MN Court) proceeding, and all derivative claimants are considered eligible claimants and covered under the terms of the settlement. Anyone with a CAE claim whose case was dismissed with prejudice prior to the settlement date is not an eligible claimant.
The exact values of the expedited pay and full evaluation options are still under consideration by Settlement Allocation Master. The expedited payment option will be faster, require less documentation, and will seek to provide first-in, first-out payments as quickly as possible as settlement milestones are hit. The full evaluation option will offer higher amounts based on criteria established by the Settlement Allocation Master and its designees based on levels of hearing damage and other factors.
Although not final, we expect claimants who select the expedited pay program will be paid in one lump sum in order to provide payments to claimants as quickly as possible, offering a hassle-free payment process with minimal additional documentation. Awards from the expedited pay option will likely be lower than awards from the full evaluation, but payments will begin in full in the months immediately following the approval of the MSA. Some Eligible Claimants will only qualify for expedited payment depending on the details of their individual case.
The full evaluation program will take longer to pay out. Claimants who opt for the full evaluation option are entitled to an initial registration payment. Upon such time as the funds are available in the Qualified Settlement Fund, claimants will receive deferred grid payments based off the Settlement Allocation Master’s allocation methodology.
Claimants who select the expedited pay option will begin receiving payments on a first in first out basis and we expect payments to beginning in early 2024. Compensation for claimants who undertake the full evaluation process will take longer to be paid out.
A program will be created for those who decline the expedited pay option and instead go through the full evaluation process. The full evaluation process will unfold over the next couple of years – in terms of both design and implementation.
The total payout and the payout schedule by 3M were heavily negotiated terms and the result of hard bargaining on both sides.
To access the benefits of the settlement, eligible claimants must complete and submit a registration form and elect to participate in the settlement program, either through the expedited pay program or the full evaluation program. Claimants must also provide a full and complete release to indemnify 3M and its subsidiaries and a stipulated dismissal with prejudice for their case. All of these forms will be available in the coming days and weeks.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has confirmed that no veteran will lose health or disability benefits, or have their disability rating adversely adjusted, directly as a result of participating in the settlement, and no VA facility will be able to recover or subrogate any portion of a plaintiff’s award.
The initial registration date to submit registration forms to the court will be four (4) months after the reference date (i.e. the date on which the settlement administrator requires the submission of declarations by CAE Counsel identifying all eligible claimants for which they are primary counsel). The settlement administrator will send out two notices to eligible claimants prior to the initial registration date. Parties to the settlement may jointly agree to extend the initial registration date. The final registration date will be 60 days after the initial registration date.
If you filed a claim on your own behalf (pro se), you will receive information on how to register for the settlement.
The Settlement provides opportunities for all CAE claimants to participate. The Settlement and the Courts’ orders seek to have all CAE claimants identified as quickly as possible. If you have not filed a claim but have retained a lawyer, you will be able to participate in the Settlement as explained above when your lawyer includes you on the Identification Order submitted by the Reference Date. If you want to participate but have not retained a lawyer and plan to file a claim pro se, you should follow the instructions for pro se claimants in the Court’s Identification Order, Case Management Order # 60 and further be prepared to comply with all of the Court’s deadlines in the various Case Management Orders, including but not limited to the completion of a census form and submission of a census form within 14 days from September 29, 2023.
Any case that has been tolled or has otherwise not been filed for any reason should be promptly filed in the MDL Court or the MN Court and be identified pursuant to the Identification Order no later than September 12, 2023. Any CAE claimants that file cases after that date will be required to comply with Case Management Order #57 or the MN Court’s similar order, each of which imposes significant obligations on new plaintiffs.
This settlement is intended to fully resolve all litigation and claims against defendant 3M and its subsidiaries related to the use of Combat Arms Earplugs (CAE).
These will be stayed and then dismissed once the conditions set forth in the settlement agreement are fulfilled.
No. The Settlement Master will apply the allocation methodology to each case individually. CAE Claimants need to file their own case to participate and cannot rely on others to do so.
The parties jointly proposed and the Court has appointed ARCHER Systems, LLC as the settlement administrator to administer the QSF. ARCHER Systems will act as the fiduciary of the settlement trust in accordance with the provisions of the trust agreement, the MSA, and court orders.
The Parties to the MSA jointly recommended the MDL court appoint John Perry as the Settlement Special Master.
While anyone may choose to not to participate and pursue their claims, the overarching goal of this settlement is to provide a fair and equitable deal and encourage claimants to participate in the settlement, including through providing individual evaluation of injuries if you choose not to select expedited pay.
Yes, if you have not yet submitted a DD214 to your law firm and MDL-Centrality, you will be required to submit one in the coming weeks. The DD214 like all settlement forms and communication will be processed by BrownGreer and sent to ARCHER as part of your Plaintiff Identification and is necessary to confirm dates of active military service and verify CAEv2 usage.
The Census form is a court ordered document that provides important factual information regarding your service, use of the CAEv2, and injuries from that use. The Census Form like all settlement forms and communication will be processed by BrownGreer and sent to ARCHER as part of your Plaintiff Identification and is necessary to confirm dates of active military service and verify CAEv2 usage including dates and types of injuries.
No, the settlement process for Active Duty and former servicemembers as well as government contractors is the same and will proceed thru ARCHER’s settlement administration process.
ARCHER is a Court appointed third-party settlement administrator. In addition to handling the Registration process, ARCHER will review and populate all injury levels based on review of military/employment and medical records including audiograms and the DOEHRS database. Further, ARCHER will handle processing of all payments – to claimants, counsel and third parties – and all communication regarding settlement claims for the 3M CAEv2 litigation.
No, any documents provided to your attorneys and processed thru MDL-Centrality during litigation will be uploaded to your Registration account with ARCHER. To the extent you have any missing records, ARCHER will provide outreach to you and your counsel to allow additional information and documents to be submitted early in the Registration process.
Master Settlement Agreement. This is the agreement between the Parties which details the settlement terms and the mechanisms to administer the settlement.
You will be provided communication by ARCHER but there is a minimum 90-day window for Wave Claimants and a minimum 120-day window for all other CAEv2 claimants.
There will be a variety of options for you to be paid in the format most convenient for you and your finances. For those without a bank account there will be provisions in place to review your settlement and select a convenient payment option.
Each case is evaluated for a number of criteria in medical records and audiograms. Every participant in the settlement will receive a disclosure from ARCHER detailing their specific allocation and their individual settlement award.
ARCHER will send you communications for you to accept your settlement award or reject your settlement award and become a litigating plaintiff. ARCHER strongly recommends discussing any questions you may have about going to trial with your lawyer. ARCHER does not and cannot provide legal advice.
Taxes will not be withheld from your award. Consult your tax professional or tax preparer for tax advice related to your settlement. ARCHER Systems, its affiliates, and the Parties do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors related to your 3M CAE settlement.