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3M Dust Mask Lawsuit ($62.5M Settlement) Get the Right Lawyer

Our lawyers are filing lawsuits for current and former coal miners who have been diagnosed with coal mine workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) after using allegedly defective dust masks and respirators manufactured by the 3M Company.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Free Confidential 3M Dust Mask Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one was diagnosed with black lung disease after using 3M dust masks and respirators, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free confidential case evaluation. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a 3M Dust Mask Lawsuit and our product liability law firm can help.

What's the Problem?

For hundreds of years, the coal mining industry has helped provide heat and electricity for homes and businesses across the United States. Despite the benefits that the industry has brought our country, there’s no denying the fact that coal mining carries many inherent risks.

One of these risks has to do with the fact that unless coal miners wear a 3M dust mask that provides adequate ventilation, coal mine workers can inhale coal particles, which can be extremely harmful after long periods of exposure, especially to the person's lungs, potentially causing lifelong complications such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.

Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, frequently referred to as CWP, black lung disease, or black lung, is one of the most common conditions caused by prolonged exposure to dangerous coal dust. Similar to the long term negative effects of tobacco smoking and long-term exposure to inhaling coal dust and carbon dioxide, earliest stage black lung can lead to lung inflammation, fibrosis, and irreversible damage. Lung necrosis permanently blackens and destroys lung tissue. There is no way to recover from black lung disease.

Black Lung Disease

Which Companies Sold Allegedly Defective Dust Masks?

  • Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
  • Eastern States Mine supply
  • Fairmont Supply Company
  • Persinger Supply Company
  • Raleigh Mine and Industrial Supply
  • Mine Safety Appliances
  • American Optical Corp.
  • Kentucky Mine Supply Company
  • And more

How Does Coal Dust Cause Black Lung Disease?

Black lung is the common term used for several respiratory diseases caused by breathing in coal mine dust, according to the Smithsonian Institution [1].

The common name derives from the fact that those with the disease have lungs that appear black instead of the normal pink. There are 2 forms of black lung disease: simple black lung disease and complicated black lung disease, which also involves progressive massive fibrosis (PMF).

Coal workers, metal miners, and other industrial workers wear dust masks or respirators to avoid breathing the dust created during mining, sandblasting, and other dust-filled work environments. Unfortunately, defective masks have been attributed to these serious lung injuries.

Related Article: 3M Earplug Lawsuit Update

Symptoms of Black Lung Disease

  • Decreased lung function
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Increased mucous
  • Pain when breathing
  • Black sputum shortness
  • Fatigue
  • X-rays show spots on lungs

Are Lawsuits Being Filed?

A number of current and former coal miners have sued 3M, claiming they developed black lung from defective respirators and dust masks which failed to protect them on the job.

A Kentucky jury recently awarded 2 former coal miners $67.5 million, concluding that the 3M respirator the men used was “defective and unreasonably dangerous.”A Kentucky jury has awarded $67.5 million to 2 brothers who worked as coal miners and developed black-lung disease, even though they wore 3M respirators.

The jury determined that Plaintiffs Leslie and Michael Cox developed black-lung disease largely because their 3M dust masks were ineffective.

The verdict is the largest ever in an Eastern Kentucky civil lawsuit.

Of the $67.5 million, $62.5 million represents punitive damages against 3M and the rest is to compensate the brothers for pain and suffering they have experienced and will continue to endure.

Coal miners wear masks so that they do not breathe in the dangerous coal particles produced during the course of their work. Breathing in coal particles allegedly causes black-lung, a disease that prevents a person from breathing.

Black-lung is an incurable condition and can often lead to a premature death. Around 78,000 deaths from black-lung have been reported since the late 1960s, and there has been an increase in the number of cases of black-lung in recent years.

According to researchers, a number of factors may have led to the increase in cases of black-lung disease in recent years, including the fact that coal miners are often working longer shifts than they have in the past, miners being asked to mine in riskier situations, inadequate rules to control dust, and a failure by coal companies to comply with existing dust control rules.

The jury determined that the 3M dust mask worn by the miners in the course of their employment was not effective in protecting them from breathing in coal particles.

According to the jury, the equipment was in such a “defective and unreasonably dangerous condition” that 3M should not have marketed and sold the equipment for mining use.

Though the men worked for more than a dozen coal companies, the jury did not hold the companies at all liable for the miners’ condition.

However, the jury did not determine that 3M was entirely liable for the miners’ condition, saying that the miners did not exercise a normal level of care that would protect their safety, because both brothers smoked.

The jury in the 3M mining respirator lawsuit determined that 3M was 40 percent responsible for one miner’s injury, and 30 percent responsible for the other’s injury.

If the jury’s determination stands, 3M will be responsible for all of the $62.5 million punitive portion of the settlement.

According to a spokeswoman for 3M, the company is disappointed with the jury’s determination and plans to appeal the verdict.

The Cox brothers’ mining mask problems lawsuit is the third one tried in the same Kentucky County.

In all three, miners claimed that the protective gear they had used in their work was defective, and the defects at least substantially contributed to them developing black lung.

Other Dust Mask Verdicts

In 2016, a jury verdict was reached at the trial of a Kentucky coal miner, James Couch, who filed a products liability lawsuit against Mine Safety Appliances due to their defective coal dust masks. This is perhaps the first coal dust respirator case to go to trial in the United States.

Couch was diagnosed with black lung and a jury ultimately awarded him a $7.2 million verdict. Congress previously ordered black lung to be eliminated by the coal mining industry by the year 1969. Officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and other entities, called for an outright ban of coal mask respirators in the 1970s.

Nevertheless, Mine Safety Appliances (Defendant in this case) did not cease selling the dust masks. Couch ended up wearing his coal dust mask for 15 long years. He did not know that his mask was not properly filtering the air he breathed while working in the coal mines.

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The Product Liability Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in 3M dust mask lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new black lung disease cases in all 50 states.

Free Consultation Evaluation: Again, if you got black lung disease after using 3M dust masks or respirators, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free consultation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and our law firm can help with a free case evaluation.

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