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3M’s Legal Woes Cast $33 Billion Shadow Over CEO’s Growth Plan

  • Court battles over earplugs, forever chemicals weigh on shares
  • Newer suits are ‘underappreciated by investors,’ analyst says
Michael Roman
Michael RomanPhotographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

3M Co., the maker of everything from Post-it notes to touchscreen displays, has a $33 billion problem hiding in plain sight.

It started as a trickle, with a single lawsuit filed back in 2018 alleging earplugs sold to the U.S. military were faulty. That first case unleashed a torrent. The company now faces several thousand suits over the issue and roughly 280,000 pending claims. That’s on top of another wave of litigation, with a cache of cases tied to its past production of so-called forever chemicals.