A federal judge overseeing thousands of lawsuits over 3M’s combat earplugs ordered its CEO, Mike Roman, to attend a mediation hearing later this week, citing settlement discussions that had “progressed to a critical juncture.”

In a Friday order, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers ruled that negotiations to settle more than 230,000 lawsuits over the earplugs had reached a point “where the most senior party representative leaders must be present.”