(Adds statement from 3M)
WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - The 3M Co. has agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle allegations it knowingly sold defective combat ear plugs to the U.S. military without disclosing defects that limited the effectiveness of the hearing protection devices, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said the settlement demonstrated that "government contractors who seek to profit at the expense of our military will face appropriate consequences."
A settlement frees 3M from the inconvenience of a long investigation and litigation, it said. "We take great pride in our products and this resolution is not an admission of liability, but simply a decision to move forward with our mission to provide high-quality personal safety equipment products to our customers,” the company said in a statement.
The 3M payment settles allegations that 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies Inc., knew the ear plugs it sold the military were too short for proper insertion into the users' ears and could loosen and not perform effectively in some people, the Justice Department said. (Reporting by David Alexander Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)