What was wrong with 3M Earplugs?
Lawsuits allege that 3M Dual-Sided Combat Arms Earplugs were defectively designed and allowed too much sound to enter the user's ear canal.
Military personnel is regularly exposed to dangerously high levels of noise during training and combat, and these noise levels lead to significant hearing problems over time, so service members were provided with earplugs to protect their hearing.
In addition to the defective design of the earplugs, 3M falsified test results and failed to provide adequate instructions for the proper use of the earplugs.
Related Article: 3M Earplug Lawsuit Update
Which Earplugs Are Affected?
The earplugs at the center of the controversy are 3M Dual-Sided Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2). The earplugs were designed by Aearo Technologies LLC, which 3M purchased for $1.2 billion in 2007.
Complaints allege that Aearo was aware as early as 2000 that the earplugs were defectively designed, but public awareness of the defect did not occur until 2016 when the U.S. Department of Justice filed a whistleblower lawsuit against 3M.
What are Plaintiffs Alleging in 3M Lawsuits?
Plaintiffs in 3M Earplug Lawsuits are alleging the company's liability for hearing damage based on a legal theory of product liability. A product liability lawsuit holds the manufacturer of a product responsible for the damage it causes others when being used as directed.
In product liability lawsuits, it must be proven that the product in question was defective. A product may be defective in the following ways:
- Defective design - Plaintiffs allege that 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were too short to form an effective noise barrier inside the ears of certain users.
- Defective manufacturing - Plaintiffs charge that the design of the 3M earplugs was defective, and not an error that occurred during production.
- Defective labeling or failure to provide a sufficient warning - Plaintiffs have alleged the 3M earplugs in question were sold without adequate instructions regarding proper insertion and failed to warn about the risk of hearing loss due to improper insertion.
Does Suing 3M Affect My VA Disability Benefits?
No. Receiving compensation from a private company like 3M does not affect your VA disability benefits. VA disability benefits are generally only affected by a lawsuit against the U.S. government.
Related Article: How Much Money Are Veterans Getting for the 3M Lawsuit?
Signs and Symptoms of 3M Ear Plug Hearing Loss
- Finding it difficult to understand speech, especially when in a noisy or crowded setting
- Speech and sounds are muffled
- Trouble hearing consonants
- Having to turn up the volume to hear the radio or television
- Constantly asking people to speak more loudly, clearly, and slowly
- Withdrawing from conversations
- Not attending or participating in social situations
Can I File a Class Action Against 3M Over Defective Ear Plugs?
There is currently no class action lawsuit pending against 3M over the company's Combat Arms Earplugs; however, over 230,000 individual lawsuits have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation, or MDL, in the Northern District of Florida before Judge M. Casey Rodgers.
Aearo Technologies, the 3M subsidiary that originally designed the defective Combat Arms Earplugs, declared bankruptcy in July 2022. 3M petitioned the courts to find Aearo alone to be responsible for the problems with the earplugs, but in August 2022, a ruling allowed the lawsuits to move forward against both Aearo and 3M.
Related Article: How to Qualify for a 3M Lawsuit?
Proving Your Claim Against 3M
To file a successful lawsuit against 3M over injuries caused by its Combat Arms Earplugs, you will be required to provide the court with the following documents:
- Your DD214, or your official service record
- Your VA record
- Medical records establishing that you have suffered an injury due to your use of the earplugs, tinnitus, usually hearing loss or loss of balance (vertigo)
Read Also: How Long Will the Settlement Take?
3M Earplug Lawsuit Status
So many claims have been filed against 3M that these lawsuits now account for nearly one-third of all cases currently pending in federal court.
Most of the cases have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Florida, which is the biggest MDL in history and as of Dec. 2022, has at least 262,048 actions pending.
To date, 16 bellwether trials have been brought to court. 3M has been defeated in 10 of these trials, and the 13 plaintiffs in those cases have been awarded nearly $300 million in damages.
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