The 3M Company is a well-known Minnesota-based corporation and manufacturer of 3M ear plugs. Recently, 3M settled with the U.S. military concerning claims that alleged 3M sold the government military defective combat earplugs for front line troops.
Within the 3M earplug lawsuit, there were two versions of earplugs that 3M manufactured; the single-ended version, and the dual-ended version. 3M allegedly sold the dual-ended version (also known as CAEV2 earplugs ) to the government and failed to disclose any of the product’s defects. The defective earplugs were called the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs and were part of the company’s Military Combat Safety Gear line of products. They were standard military issue ear plugs for several branches of the armed services until discontinued.
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The 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were designed to protect the user’s hearing using two primary functions. When inserted one way the wearer would be able to hear sounds at reasonable volumes, such as speech. When inserted in the opposite direction the user would get better noise protection from loud sounds, such as gunfire or explosions. Even though this design seemed promising, it was not without its faults.
Eventually it was discovered that the stem of the earplugs was too short. This defect stopped the earplugs from reaching deep enough into the ear. This flaw causes the earplugs to come loose and allow destructive sounds such as gunfire, explosions, and heavy machinery noises to seep into the ear canal.
Hearing damage was experienced by U.S. military personnel who were issued and used the faulty Dual-Ended Combat Arms 3M hearing protection between 2003 and 2015. Troops were sent into Iraq and Afghanistan without adequate ear protection due to 3M’s defective earplug design. A known side effect of these defective 3M earplugs is hearing loss. Another is tinnitus, which is a buzzing, ringing or hissing in the ears. Both are the result of exposure to damaging levels of sound and can be permanent.
The Department of Justice announced that the 3M company will pay the U.S. government $9.1 million on July 26, 2018, because of allegations that 3M sold defective military earplugs to the U.S. military. The 3M military earplugs lawsuit alleges the company sold defective earplugs and did not warn the military of the potential design defects that possibly lead to tinnitus and hearing loss. Aearo Technologies Inc., acquired by 3M in 2008, had allegations lobbed against them as well.
3M and Aearo were both accused of knowing that the 3M earplugs were too short to be properly inserted into the ear and provide sufficient protection for users. Although 3M and Aearo agreed to the 3M combat arms earplugs lawsuit payout of $9.1 million altogether to the U.S. Government to settle the matter, the companies have denied any wrongdoing and accepted no liability to this day. No part of this particular settlement will go to the individuals harmed by the defective earplugs.
Now service men and women are filing their own military hearing loss mass tort lawsuit for hearing loss and tinnitus from using the defective earplugs. Despite some plaintiffs requesting that their lawsuit be moved to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the home state of 3M Company’s headquarters, the mass tort has been moved to a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The Honorable Federal Judge Casey Rodgers, a U.S. veteran, is to preside over the large products liability multi-district litigation. On July 27, 2020, Judge Rodgers denied 3M’s claim for using government contractors defense, which protects corporations from liability for defective products designed and produced for the United States federal government.
Generally, a U.S. veteran’s proceeds from the resolution of a 3M earplug claim or lawsuit should not affect his or her disability benefits. There are exceptions. If you or a loved one was employed in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015, used 3M earplugs during your service and have experienced hearing loss or tinnitus, call Bautista LeRoy LLC. or fill out our 3M military earplug lawsuit intake form to see if you qualify.