What are 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?
3M Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (caev2) were designed with unique dual-ended functions. One side of the earplugs blocked out all noises while the other side blocked out louder noises like gunshots and explosions while still allowing the user to hear softer sounds, such as conversations and commands from a superior officer. The U.S. Marine Corps was so impressed with the effectiveness of the military earplugs that they ordered more than 20,000 pairs in 2003 alone, wiping out the country’s entire stock.
How Were the 3M Earplugs Defective?
Unfortunately, the Combat Arms Earplugs never worked as 3M claimed. Unbeknownst to troops, a flaw in the earplugs caused them to loosen while being worn without the user realizing it. This allowed loud noises to enter soldiers’ ears, leading to hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing-related injuries — the very injuries the earplugs were supposedly designed to prevent.
Related Article: 3M Earplug Lawsuit Update
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Thousands of military veterans and current service members who wore 3M Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (caev2) have been diagnosed and treated for hearing loss and tinnitus. Common signs and symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Muffled speech
- Difficulty hearing against background noise or in a crowd
- Frequently asking others to repeat what they’re saying and speak slower and louder
- Needing to increase the volume on the TV or radio
- Challenges hearing consonants
- Withdrawing from conversations or avoiding social settings
Symptoms of tinnitus may include:
- Persistent noise
- Ringing, buzzing or hissing in the ears
Both hearing loss and tinnitus are serious conditions, and can be permanent. Those who were injured as a result of 3M’s negligence deserve to be compensated for their injuries.
Related Article: 3M Hearing Protection Lawsuit
3M Earplug Whistleblower Lawsuit
In July 2018, 3M paid $9.1 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The lawsuit alleged that 3M officials were aware of problems with the Combat Arms Earplugs as early as 2000, then falsified test results and sold millions of pairs of the defective earplugs to the U.S. military from 2003 to 2015. By the time the whistleblower exposed these facts in 2015, over 1 million veterans and current service members were receiving benefits for hearing loss; another 1.4 million suffered from tinnitus.
3M Earplug Litigation Update
There is currently a multidistrict litigation (MDL) pending for injuries alleged from 3M Combat Arms Earplugs in the Northern District of Florida. The litigation is being overseen by the Honorable Judge M. Casey Rodgers.
In April 2019, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ruled that common issues of fact existed in lawsuits being filed against 3M nationwide. Specifically, the JPML found that all of the cases involve common factual issues about whether 3M Combat Arms earplugs were defective, and, therefore, caused hearing loss and tinnitus.
The cases were consolidated into the MDL on April 3, 2019. Since then, the court has issued various pretrial and case management orders.
The 3M earplug bellwether trials concluded with a big win for the plaintiffs. The last and final bellwether trial concluded on May 20, 2022, in Pensacola, Florida, with a federal jury awarding plaintiff James Beal a total of $77.5 million in damages. This is the largest 3M earplug lawsuit payout amount ever awarded to a single bellwether plaintiff, bringing the total damages against 3M to $300 million.
Am I Eligible to File a Military Earplug Lawsuit Against 3M?
And here is how to qualify for a 3M lawsuit - Veterans who served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces from 2003 to 2015 may qualify to pursue compensation for the hearing loss and/or tinnitus they developed. This may include money for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. If you used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (caev2) and now suffer from hearing loss or other related symptoms, you should contact our lawyers now to learn more about your legal rights.
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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.
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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.