If you haven’t heard yet, 3M Company, one of the largest companies in the United States, is being sued by veterans across the nation. A whistleblower lawsuit in 2018 against 3M revealed allegations that 3M had sold earplugs to the United States Military that the company knew were defective. That case was resolved via a $9.1 million settlement. Having the potential to be one of the biggest lawsuits in recent history, social media has exploded with information and misinformation about the case. Here are three of the most common misconceptions.
1. The $9.1 million will be distributed among the injured military members.
The $9.1 million settlement that everyone has heard about was a settlement between 3M Company and the United States. The government filed suit against 3M alleging that as a government contractor, 3M sold them earplugs that they knew were defective and that the defect was not disclosed to the military. This money will go to the government and the whistleblower and will not be distributed between the service members who were harmed.
In the current litigation against 3M, veterans and active duty members who used the 3M earplugs and who were harmed as a result are suing 3M to recover for those injuries. This will not involve dividing up the $9.1 million, but rather each service member has their own individual case against 3M. At this early stage, it is impossible to estimate exactly how much each service member will receive, but it will not be the $9.1 million divided among everyone.
2. This is a class action lawsuit. – FALSE
The current litigation is what is known as a multi-district litigation (MDL). Class action lawsuits are different from MDLs in several ways. The most important difference is that in an MDL each plaintiff (here, the service members) will have their own individual lawsuit against 3M. In a class action, every plaintiff is involved in a single lawsuit. As a plaintiff in an MDL case you have more control over what happens. MDLs exist and are designed to consolidate hundreds, sometimes thousands, of similar cases in front of one court for efficiency’s sake.
3. If I win a settlement in this case I will lose my VA disability benefits. – FALSE
If you are a veteran receiving disability benefits, a personal injury settlement will not affect those benefits. Disability benefits are given based on injury to the veteran and are not based on income or financial need. Because it is not based on income, a personal injury settlement will not stop or decrease your disability benefits, regardless of whether it is a lump sum or structured settlement. However, needs-based or income-based benefits could be affected.
Taking all three of the above things into account, it is very important that you speak with an attorney who is knowledgeable of the ins and outs of MDLs and this 3M litigation. You may only have a limited time to file your claim. Please call the Bryant Law Center with any questions you may have or to start your free consultation.