3M Company

3M (also known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) is a large multinational conglomerate, manufacturing over 60,000 products covering a range of industries, including healthcare and consumer goods. A couple of the company’s most notable products include the Post-it note and Scotch tape. 
Headquartered in Minnesota, 3M was founded in 1902. According to the company’s 2022 Annual Report, 3M generated annual revenue of $34.2 billion, with 92,000 full-time employees around the world. Due to the continued popularity of 3M products over a number of decades, the company has employed hundreds of thousands of workers since its formation.

Unlike other companies which have set up bankruptcy funds to battle asbestos litigation, 3M has continued to handle cases through the legal system. The company has faced thousands of lawsuits and has paid out almost $300 million in settlements related to asbestos exposure.

3M Asbestos Verdicts and Settlements

In a notable case, a court of appeals in December 2021 upheld a $4 million verdict awarded to the family of Warren Wright, who passed away from mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure in oil refineries. While 3M was initially a defendant, they settled before the trial, while ExxonMobil proceeded and was held responsible for the verdict.

Another lawsuit in June 2018 involved two mesothelioma plaintiffs claiming that 3M’s respirators failed to protect them from asbestos exposure at a factory in Weyerhaeuser, Wisconsin. The factory manufactured fireproof doors containing asbestos cores, and despite wearing 3M respirators as required, the plaintiffs argued that the devices were defective and led to their mesothelioma development. A Wisconsin court ruled there was enough evidence to proceed with the consolidated lawsuit.

In February 2016, 3M settled four asbestos lawsuits filed by mesothelioma plaintiffs just before the trials were scheduled to begin. These consolidated suits were brought by former workers of the same Weyerhaeuser factory that produced fireproof doors with asbestos.

In 2015, 3M was named in a lawsuit filed by a mesothelioma plaintiff who claimed exposure to asbestos through 3M products during their time in the U.S. Air Force.

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Occupations and Industries Affected By 3M’s Operations

3M has manufactured a wide variety of products in their history – their existing product range totals almost 60,000. Before federal asbestos legislation was introduced in the 1970s, asbestos was used in many of their products due to its durability. This posed a threat – not just for 3M factory employees, but for end users who may have come into contact with the toxic fibers. 

The occupations affected by 3M’s operations include:

  • Factory workers
  • Mechanics
  • Engineers
  • Boilermakers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Construction workers
  • HVAC technicians

Due to the nature of their work, many of the employees working in these industries are considered among the highest risk for asbestos exposure. 

Not only were workers who handled products containing asbestos at 3M’s plants at risk of asbestos exposure; the family members of 3M employees were also at risk of second-hand exposure to asbestos. For example, if the fibers were brought into the home via clothing, these particles could then be disturbed, released into the air, and then inhaled into the lungs.

3M Products Containing Asbestos

Many of the 3M products that were manufactured using asbestos needed to be resistant to heat, or to be extremely durable. Asbestos is also strong and lightweight. However, the use of asbestos by 3M undoubtedly contributed to asbestos exposure for its employees, and asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. 

Some of the 3M products known to contain asbestos include:

  • 3M Adhesive
  • 3M Wet Adhesives
  • 3M Caulk
  • 3M Centerlite
  • 3M Greenlite Powder
  • 3M Hot Melt Sunset Resin
  • 3M Sticky Tar Caulking
  • 3M Dust Masks
  • 3M Heat Protective Rolls
  • 3M Rubber Coated Asbestos Cloth
  • 3M Heating Elements
  • 3M Laminated Sheets
  • Irvington Arc Proofing Tapes & Blankets

3M Respirators & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Although 3M manufactured protective and safety gear without asbestos, their 1960s masks, specifically the 3M 8500 and 8710 models, inadvertently exposed some workers to harmful asbestos fibers.

Workers who filed lawsuits alleged that 3M’s 8500 dust mask failed to provide adequate protection against asbestos fibers, despite the company’s claim that it could protect against toxic dust. On the other hand, 3M argued that they never marketed the masks as suitable for use around asbestos.

Regarding the 8710 disposable respirator, it was approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for worksites with asbestos. However, this approval was granted only for asbestos levels that were ten times lower than the permissible exposure limit or less.

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Wayne Wright, for the estate of Warren Wright v. 3M Company et al. [December 2021]


Weyerhaeuser Quashes Take-Home Asbestos Claims [June 2018]


Henry W. Latter, Jr. v. 3M Company [March 2015]


Armanious v 3M Co. [August 2014]


Mary O. Barile v. 3M Company, Inc. [September 2013]


Joseph LaPointe and Yvette LaPointe v. 3M Company, et al [November 2007]


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Written and legally reviewed by Samuel Meirowitz

Attorney and On-Site Legal Advocate

Samuel Meirowitz is a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.” Mr. Meirowitz was named a “Rising Star” in 2013 & 2014 by Super Lawyers and then a Super Lawyer every year since 2016. In 2013, Mr. Meirowitz obtained what is believed to be the first multi-million-dollar asbestos verdict seen in more than two decades in a New York federal court. In that highly contentious matter, Mr. Meirowitz was able to convince the jury to hold a boiler manufacturer responsible for 60 percent of the $3.8 million awarded, despite the defendant’s attempt to escape all blame by pointing fingers at the plaintiff’s employer and the U.S. Navy (in which the plaintiff admirably served from 1966-70 during the Vietnam conflict). This verdict was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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