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Illinois 3M Earplug Lawyer

Nearly 300,000 U.S. military veterans and current service members have filed product liability lawsuits against 3M alleging that defects in the design of the company’s Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv.2) caused them to develop severe hearing loss, tinnitus (persistent ringing in the ears), and vertigo (loss of balance). The first 3M earplug lawsuits were filed in 2019 and new cases are currently being filed.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Update: U.S. Veterans Suing 3M Over Earplugs Seek to Halt 'False Alarm' Bankruptcy Claim

April 20, 2023 - Military veterans and current service members this week asked a judge to dismiss 3M's attempt to use the bankruptcy of its subsidiary Aearo Technologies to shield itself from nearly 260,000 earplug hearing loss lawsuits, according to Reuters [1.].

Aearo, which originally designed and sold the combat arms earplugs before 3M bought the company out in 2008, filed for bankruptcy in July 2002, with 3M pledging $1 billion to fund its liabilities stemming from the hundreds of thousands of earplug lawsuits entered against it. Plaintiffs see the bankruptcy move as a strategy to escape the multidistrict litigation pending against 3M in the Northern District of Florida, following a series of unfavorable legal rulings and trial losses.

What's the Problem?

To date, over 230,000 U.S. military veterans and current service members have filed lawsuits against 3M and Aearo Technologies, each raising similar allegations that defective Combat Arms Earplugs, which were standard issue before all deployments between 2003 and 2015, caused them to develop permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

Plaintiffs further claim that 3M sold the earplugs to the U.S. government, with prior knowledge that the plugs had a design defect that left users without sufficient hearing protection during combat and training exercises. As a result, the plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation and settlements for the damages they suffered following their military service.

3M Earplug Multidistrict Litigation

Given the common questions of fact and law raised in the 3M earplug lawsuits, all claims filed on the federal level have been consolidated as part of multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of Florida before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers.

Although juries have returned millions in damages during several preliminary bellwether trials, 3M earplug settlement negotiations have failed to resolve large numbers of claims, and the size of the MDL has continued to grow as veterans continue to bring claims in waves.

Dozens of 3M Earplug Lawsuits to be Remanded to U.S. District Courts for Trial

Judge Rodgers has ordered 31 3M earplug lawsuits from 17 federal districts to be prepared for trial, with 5 cases from Florida scheduled to be remanded first. In a notice issued on May 30, 2023, Rodgers stated that 5 cases will be returned to the Middle District of Florida as soon as the current stay is lifted. However, another 26 files have been identified, which will shortly thereafter be transferred to at least 17 different federal district courts.

How Long Do I Have to File a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?

Each state in the U.S. has a specific statute of limitations, or SOL, which is essentially a legal deadline for bringing a claim against a defendant. Plaintiffs are required to file their suit before the applicable SOL expires or they will be barred from pursuing compensation for their injuries. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, but it is typically from 2 to 4 years.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin?

The statute of limitations begins when the plaintiff’s claims “accrue." Let’s say your state has a 3-year statute of limitation. If your claim accrues in 2020, you have until 2023 before the SOL expires.

Most U.S. states follow a “discovery rule” for determining when a claim accrues. Under the discovery rule, a tort accrues when the plaintiff knew or should have known that they had a potential lawsuit against someone. This occurs when the defendant has knowledge of their injury AND has reason to believe the injury may have been caused by the negligence of the defendant.

Deadline to Sue in 3M Earplug Lawsuits

Using the discovery rule, an ear plug lawsuit against 3M would accrue when the following things occur:

  • (1) The plaintiff is diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus, and
  • (2) The plaintiff realizes that their hearing loss was likely caused by defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs.

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