What's the Problem?
The faulty earplugs were initially designed by Aearo Technologies, which 3M bought out in 2008. An investigation by the U.S. government later determined that Aearo was aware of the plug’s defects as early as 2000, years before it and 3M became the exclusive provider of “selective attenuation earplugs” to the military.
In a whistleblower lawsuit filed against 3M and Aearo, the Federal Government alleged that the companies had prior knowledge that the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into users’ ears. This caused the earplugs to gradually loosen without the user realizing it until the plugs failed to perform the required noise cancellation.
The government similarly alleged that 3M did not disclose this design defect to the military when signing the contract.
3M’s Combat Arms earplugs would “loosen in the wearer's ear, imperceptibly to the wearer and even trained audiologists visually observing a wearer, thereby permitting damaging sounds to enter the ear canal by traveling around outside of the earplug,” the complaint stated.
Related Article: 3M Earplug Lawsuit Update
What Damage Did the 3M Dual-Ended Earplugs Cause?
Recent lawsuits allege that the defective 3M dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs have resulted in the following injuries to thousands of U.S. military veterans and current service members:
- Partial or complete hearing loss
- Tinnitus (constant or intermittent ringing in the ears)
- Dizziness or loss of balance (vertigo)
- Neck aches
- Ear pain
All of these conditions can hurt a person’s ability to work and quality of life.
Have the 3M Earplugs Been Recalled?
Even with all its known defects, 3M never issued a recall for its Combat Arms version 2 Earplugs (CAEv2), either voluntarily or by order of the U.S. FDA. It is known, however, that 3M discontinued the CAEv2 in 2015, shortly before the government’s filing the whistleblower lawsuit against 3M over the earplugs’ defects and the manufacturer’s fraudulent activities surrounding the marketing and sales of the plugs to the government.
Who Used Defective 3M Earplugs?
Aearo Technologies initially designed its dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs for military use, as the plugs were frequently used in combat zones to protect against loud noises such as gunshots, explosions, and the sound of heavy machinery.
3M ARC earplugs were designed similarly to the Combat Arms earplugs, the primary difference being their color, and were meant for use by civilians. These earplugs were used by employees in a variety of occupations, including:
- Construction and electrical workers
- Factory and farm workers
- Road and mine workers
- Iron and metal workers
Related Article: How Long Will the 3M Earplug Lawsuit Take?
Have There Been Any Settlements?
The 3M litigation has undergone several bellwether trials which were conducted to determine exact future settlement amounts for participants in the MDL. Trial results that ended in favor of the plaintiffs include:
- January 2022 – Jury awards $110 million to 2 U.S. military veterans
- November 2021 – $800,000 in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages awarded to Plaintiff
- September 2021 – $8.2 million awarded to veteran
- May 2021 – 3 victims were awarded a cumulative $7.1 million
- May 2021 – 1 case resulting in a jury award of $1.7 million to the plaintiff
What is the Current Status of the 3M Earplug Litigation?
All proceedings in the 3M earplug multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Florida have been frozen because 3M directed Aearo Technologies to file for bankruptcy.
Although U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey J. Graham had refused to extend the stay in Aearo’s bankruptcy claim, 3M appealed against it.
The plaintiffs have countered by filing a Motion to Dismiss the bankruptcy claim, which is currently being evaluated by Judge Graham. There’s a strong possibility of the MDL kicking back into action should the bankruptcy defense be dismissed.
Related Article: How to Qualify for a 3M Lawsuit?
Is There a Class Action?
There is currently no class action lawsuit pending against 3M for defective combat earplugs. For a class action to be filed, each plaintiff must have been harmed in the same way by the defendant. Although 3M’s negligence is alleged to be the same in each case, the defective earplugs caused different types of injuries to different users.
The lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, have taken cases and joined the 3M Earplug MDL in Florida to hold 3M accountable for harming veterans by selling defective earplugs. We are actively fighting for each client’s claim and will fight for you.
See all related product liability lawsuits our attorneys have covered.
Get a Free 3M Earplug Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Attorneys
The Product Liability Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP is an experienced team of plaintiffs' lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in 3M Ear Plug lawsuits.
We handle individual litigation nationwide and accept personal injury legal action in all 50 states.
Free Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you suffered hearing damage, ear damage, or other side effects after using 3M earplugs, you should contact our law firm immediately using the contact form below. You may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a Lawsuit and our mass tort law firm can help.