BOFA Keeps 3M Stock at Underweight After Earplug Discussions Fail

3M Stock

3M Stock (NYSE:MMM)

On Friday, the investment rating of 3M (NYSE:MMM) was steady at Underweight by Bank of America analysts. The day before the rating was left unchanged, a federal judge said that mediation negotiations between 3M (MMM) and plaintiffs who alleged that earplugs a corporate unit produced for the U.S. military was faulty had been terminated due to a lack of progress.

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers said talks broke down because neither party was willing to budge. Multidistrict litigation involving 3M (MMM) is the largest in U.S. history, with over 230,000 claims. The company has attempted to settle it via bankruptcy procedures. According to Judge Rodgers, military members “categorically reject” any bankruptcy court outcome.

A presentation of the plaintiff’s military medical documents has been scheduled, and the court has authorized the mediator to continue facilitating informal settlement talks. After being delayed from its original October start date, plaintiff David George’s second bellwether case will finally get underway on February 13.

Citing court documents, Bloomberg News stated that 3M’s (MMM) legal defense expenditures related to the earplug case had risen to more than $450 million.

Legal hurdles have occurred for the corporation, which is best known for producing Post-It Notes and Scotch tape, in its attempt to shield itself from culpability in the earplugs cases.

In July, 3M (MMM) acquired the earplug maker Aearo Technologies in 2008 and filed for bankruptcy protection due to ongoing legal disputes. In an attempt to finalize a settlement agreement, in which 3M agreed to pay, Aearo filed for bankruptcy protection to have all claims involving earplugs filed against it and 3M.

In August, after protecting Aearo from claims related to earplugs, a bankruptcy judge ruled that 3M stock would not be eligible for the same protection. The ruling meant that lawsuits against 3M (MMM) might proceed without Aearo in front of Judge Rogers. Aearo has filed an appeal and kept working toward a compromise with former service members.

3M (NYSE:MMM) said Aearo and 3M should be responsible for earplug injury claims. Last month, Judge Rodgers dismissed 3M’s (MMM) claims, ruling that the firm was responsible for the earplugs due to its acquisition of Aearo and that no prior attempts had been made to divide the burden. She ordered a stay of execution pending the outcome of an anticipated appeal.

According to a press release from 3M, the company’s bankruptcy application was not an attempt to escape culpability for earplug-injury claims but rather an effort to more quickly and accurately ascertain who is eligible for compensation.

3M stock price dropped 34% during the previous 12 months, whereas the S&P 500 (SP500) index only dropped 14% over the same period.

Featured Image: Freepik @ wirestock

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