U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers urged more than 250,000 claimants to accept a $6.1 billion settlement
of the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, or CAE, multidistrict litigation at a case management conference this morning. Judge Rodgers endorsed the settlement as fair to both claimants and 3M, and warned that those who reject the settlement will “learn hard lessons.”
The settlement agreements allow 3M to walk away from the global deal if fewer than 98% of claimants participate, and some 3M payments are conditioned on even higher levels of support. Plaintiffs’ counsel Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz conceded that the 98% threshold is high but expressed confidence the target would be met.
Judge Rodgers noted that critics have already spoken out against the settlement but dismissed them as market analysts and “academic pundits” who “know nothing” about the strengths and weaknesses of the individual CAE claims. “No one is in a better or more credible position to evaluate this settlement than I am,” the judge asserted. “The settlement is fair, and the settlement is smart.”
Judge Laurie Miller, who presides over thousands of CAE cases in a Minnesota state court and appeared today via Zoom, also endorsed the deal as fair.
Plaintiffs’ counsel Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss also recommended that all claimants accept the settlement. In support of the fairness of the deal, Seeger pointed out that when Aearo Technologies filed chapter 11
to resolve the CAE litigation in bankruptcy, 3M offered just $1 billion, $5.1 billion less than the maximum settlement amount under the current deal.
Thomas Perelli of Jenner & Block, negotiating counsel for 3M, told the judge that the settlement will allow 3M to “turn the page” and move on with its business. Perelli emphasized that 3M wants “every claimant” to see that the settlement is the “best path” and participate.