Update: 3M Earplug Jury Trials Stayed, Pending 11th Circuit Ruling
June 20, 2023 - The U.S. District Judge presiding over the 3M earplug litigation in the Northern District of Florida has ruled that jury trials will remain on hold, even after a bankruptcy filing by Aearo Technologies was rejected earlier this month.
On June 14, Judge M. Casey Rodgers issued an order noting that a separate stay on discovery and federal trials in the MDL remains in effect, pending a ruling by the Eleventh Circuit on 3M’s petition for an interlocutory review of her successor liability sanctions order.
The sanctions order was set in place in late 2022, which prevented 3M from attempting to avoid liability by shifting blame to its Aearo subsidiary. However, Judge Rodgers granted a stay on the MDL proceedings while 3M pursued an immediate appeal of the ruling.
What are 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?
3M’s subsidiary, Aearo Technologies, originally designed the Combat Arms Earplugs in 2003. The products were distributed to and used by U.S. military service members to protect their hearing on the battlefield, where they are routinely exposed to noise levels of up to 150 decibels or more.
This level of noise can result in permanent hearing loss, especially when a person is exposed for an extended period of time. The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were trusted by the U.S. military to provide adequate hearing protection; however, over the past few years, thousands of service members have come forward with complaints about hearing loss caused by defective earplugs.
Related Article: 3M Earplug Lawsuit Update
What's the Problem with 3M Earplugs?
An investigation conducted by the Federal Government determined that 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were basically too short. The short length of the plugs made them impossible to properly insert into the ear canal. Without proper placement, the earplugs failed to effectively block out sound. As a result, military service members who used the earplugs were not properly protected.
Related Article: How to Qualify for a 3M Lawsuit?
3M Combat Arms Earplug Hearing Loss
3M Earplugs have affected the lives of thousands of current and former U.S. military service members. Health complications have arisen from inadequate hearing protection, including both temporary and permanent hearing loss, as well as tinnitus.
Tinnitus occurs when a person experiences intermittent or constant ringing in one or both ears. The condition is a tell-tale sign that there’s a problem with the auditory system.
Noise-induced hearing loss is one way a person can develop tinnitus. Military members and Veterans have reported tinnitus as a long-term complication of using defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs.
Related Article: How Much Money Are Veterans Getting for the 3M Lawsuit?
3M Earplug Lawsuit Settlement
Allegations were first leveled against 3M in 2016 when it was discovered that the company's earplugs were too short to fit all users. 3M was accused of knowingly distributing a defective product.
Documents from the early 2000s indicated that Aearo Technologies tested the Combat Arms Earplugs and found that they could loosen in place and were too short to fit all users. Although they claimed to, Aearo never informed the U.S. military of this problem.
In 2018, 3M settled with the Department of Justice to remedy the allegations for $9.1 million. However, 3M never admitted to any wrongdoing. Several years later, 3M is still dealing with the legal ramifications surrounding its defective Combat Arms Earplugs.
Related Article: 3M Earplug Hearing Loss Settlement Amounts
3M Earplug Lawsuit Update
3M Earplug lawsuits have since been aggregated into the biggest multidistrict litigation (MDL) in U.S. history. 3M has lost 10 jury trials so far.
The most recent trial, which took place in May 2022, resulted in 13 plaintiffs being awarded $300 million against 3M. There are currently more than 250,000 defective earplug lawsuits pending against 3M.
3M has yet to pay out any of the money. Instead, the company has appealed several of the cases they lost. 3M has created a $1 billion trust for service members who were injured by its earplugs, but plaintiffs’ counsel has stated that the trust is not an “efficient or equitable resolution.”
Aearo Technologies subsequently filed for bankruptcy, which is how the company attempted to resolve the claims. The plaintiffs challenged the legality of the bankruptcy, as the move would slow down the settlement process. The amount of 3M earplug lawsuit payouts would also most likely be lower.
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