Lawyer Monthly - September 2023

3M Settles US Military Earplug Lawsuit for $6 Billion Department of Justice Sues SpaceX Over Discriminatory Hiring Practices US-based industrial conglomerate 3M Company has agreed to pay $6.01 billion to settle lawsuits brought by US military veterans who claim that they suffered hearing loss as a result of using the company’s earplugs. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed suit against Elon Muskowned aerospace company SpaceX on 24 August, claiming that the company discriminated against refugees and asylum recipients during hiring. of training and active combat from 2003 to 2015, seeing use in theatres including Afghanistan and Iraq. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits claim that the Combat Arms earplugs contained design flaws that the company covered up, in addition to fudging test results and failing stated that SpaceX job listings and public messages had falsely claimed only to be able to hire US citizens and lawful permanent residents, sometimes referred to as green card holders. The DoJ also pointed to a 2020 post on X, then called Twitter, by Musk stating that: “US law requires at least a green card to be hired at to provide instructions for the earplugs’ proper use, leading to hearing damage for many users. 3M will not admit liability as part of the settlement, and continues to claim that its earplugs are “safe and effective when used properly”. SpaceX, as rockets are advanced weapons technology." Musk hit out against the lawsuit, describing it as “weaponization of the DOJ for political purposes” and claiming that SpaceX “was told repeatedly that hiring anyone who was not a permanent resident of the United States would violate international arms trafficking law, which would be a criminal offence.” The DoJ is seeking fair consideration and back pay for refugees and asylum recipients who were deterred or denied employment at SpaceX, as well as civil penalties in an amount to be determined by court. The settlement comes after a failed attempt by 3M earlier this year to move the lawsuits into bankruptcy court in order to limit their liability. These lawsuits have now grown into the largest mass tort litigation in the history of the US, with 240,000 people expected to be eligible for the settlement. $1 billion will be paid out in the form of 3M stock. 3M’s ‘Combat Arms’ earplugs were created by Asaro Technologies, a subsidiary of 3M that was acquired in 2008. These earplugs were then used by the US military as part In a statement, the DoJ said that SpaceX had “routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them, because of their citizenship status, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).” Evidencing its claim, the DoJ MONTHLY ROUND-UP 9

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