CLEVELAND (AP) _ A medical equipment company has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit by paying up to $100 million to about 3,000 people who claimed they suffered from the company's spinal products.

Cleveland-based AcroMed Corp. and the plaintiffs' attorneys have until Jan. 6 to submit a formal settlement agreement to Chief Judge Emeritus Louis C. Bechtle of U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

``We believe it's good for the plaintiffs, for the people who were injured,'' Philadelphia attorney Joseph L. Messa Jr. said Friday. He is one of nine attorneys on the plaintiffs' legal committee.

Bechtle issued a stay on the legal proceedings involving the AcroMed devices until the proposed settlement can be considered.

Dr. Arthur D. Steffe, a spine surgeon, founded the company to market his plate-and-screw devices that created an internal scaffold to support damaged, twisted and diseased spines.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed the Food and Drug Administration had not cleared the devices for use in the spine. They claimed to have suffered such problems as nerve damage, increased pain, scarring and loss of bowel or bladder functions.

``We have taken this action despite our firm belief that claims arising from the use of these devices in spinal fusion surgeries are without merit,'' AcroMed said in a statement.

The AcroMed office and Steffe's medical office were closed Saturday, and officials could not be reached for comment.

The settlement was expected to dismiss all device-related claims against AcroMed and the doctors and distributors working for AcroMed.

It also would dismiss all claims against medical societies relating to the sale and use of AcroMed products.