3M Earplug Litigation Update
May 22, 2023 - U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers has ordered 3M Co. CEO Michael Roman to attend mediation aimed at resolving nearly 260,000 lawsuits filed on behalf of U.S. military veterans and current service members who claim to have developed hearing loss from 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, according to Reuters. Rodgers ordered Roman to attend mediation talks this week, stating that the negotiations have reached a "critical juncture."
3M has recently sought to resolve the lawsuits through the bankruptcy of its subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC, which originally manufactured the earplugs. 3M had opposed the move to renew mediation while Aearo's bankruptcy is pending. Previous efforts reached a stalemate in January, as 3M and the earplug plaintiffs focused their attention on Aearo's bankruptcy.
What's the Problem?
The U.S. military purchased 3M Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv.2) to protect service members from hearing loss injuries from 2003 to 2015. Conditions such as tinnitus and hearing loss in one or both ears are among the most common disabilities suffered by military veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Unfortunately, the 3M earplugs were defective because they failed to properly seal inside the ear canal. As a result, soldiers who saw combat performed certain training drills or otherwise worked in noisy environments often experienced severe hearing loss, tinnitus, and loss of balance (vertigo).
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3M Earplug Status: "Largest MDL in History"
The litigation against 3M is the largest-ever multi-district litigation (MDL) in U.S. history, with nearly 330,000 cases filed to date and nearly 260,000 currently pending, according to Reuters.
3M has lost 10 of the 16 bellwether trials that have reached court so far, with approximately $265 million being awarded to a total of 13 plaintiffs.
3M Earplug Hearing Loss Trials to Resume if No Settlement Reached
While 3M continues to work the Aearo bankruptcy maneuver, this strategy has already faced numerous setbacks, after Judge Rodgers ruled that the lawsuits may proceed against 3M for its independent liability in manufacturing and selling the defective earplugs for more than a decade.
3M has appealed that ruling and is challenging the court's decision to reject their government contractor defense. However, if the appeal is thrown out, it is likely that the MDL in Florida will resume quickly, with a rapid pace of jury trials scheduled across the U.S.
Rodgers has initiated preparations to begin remanding huge numbers of cases to federal courts once the bankruptcy issue and appeals from the early bellwether trials are resolved.
Experts have speculated that 3M would need to pay out over $10 billion to settle the earplug lawsuits; however, if the Aearo bankruptcy is dismissed and the company loses its appeal, the settlement is likely to increase significantly.
Who Can File a Claim Against 3M?
Any current or former United States military service member who was issued and used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv.2) and subsequently developed any type of hearing loss may be eligible to file a lawsuit against 3M. This includes individuals who have been diagnosed with full or partial hearing loss in one ear or both ears, and other conditions including tinnitus, which is characterized by a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears, and vertigo, which is the sensation of loss of balance or that the environment is spinning around you.
Related Article: How to Qualify for a 3M Lawsuit?
What Should I Do if I Don't Think I Can Afford a Lawyer?
The law offices of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing unless we win your case. There are no upfront fees, and there are no charges to you while your case is pending. This allows you to retain top-tier legal representation regardless of your financial situation.
Can I File a Lawsuit if I'm Receiving Veterans Disability Payments?
Yes. Your veteran's disability payments from the government will not be affected by an injury caused by a defective product. Hearing loss can cause an individual to suffer pain which can negatively impact the quality of a person's life. If a defective product caused you serious injuries, you deserve to be compensated.
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