3M Earplugs Lawsuit | September 2022 Update

A soldier suffering from tinnitus and filed a 3M Earplugs Lawsuit

3M earplugs lawsuit, has been linked to hearing damage in thousands of military service members and veterans. The company has faced lawsuits across the country, most of which are unresolved. There are thousands of claims still pending, with most being settled out of court, although some have recorded trial victories that resulted in divided verdicts; 10 for the plaintiffs and 6 for the defense. 

A soldier suffering from tinnitus and filed a 3M Earplugs Lawsuit

Although the plaintiffs have won in most cases, the defense has proved successful enough to maintain a certain level of confidence for both sides, and there have been no signs that negotiations will begin. As of June 2022, the federal district judge has ordered the parties to begin mediation to settle as many 3M earplug lawsuits as possible.

The Story Behind 3M Earplugs Lawsuit

The 3M Company manufactured and supplied the United States military with Combat Arms earplugs to protect service members’ ears from loud sounds of combat. They were standard issues in Iraq and Afghanistan. Production stopped in 2015, but no product recall was issued, leaving 12 years of defective earplugs in the field.

The defective earplug issue was brought to light in 2016 when a competitive company -Moldex-Metric, Inc- filed a whistleblower lawsuit against 3M. In this lawsuit, the company claimed that the 3M earplugs did not meet requirements and protection guidelines as laid out by the federal government, but they were still being issued to soldiers. 

In this 3m earplugs lawsuit, the primary claim of Moldex-Metric Inc was that the defects were likely responsible for the hearing loss and tinnitus suffered by soldiers. Two years after the lawsuit, 3M paid nearly $9 million to the Department of Justice. This amount of money ensured that 3M would not accept responsibility for what happened, and the issue would be resolved. 

However, the allegations are still far from resolved. Soldiers filed lawsuits against 3M shortly after, accusing 3M of its defective product responsible for their hearing loss and/or tinnitus. To date, more than 200,000 lawsuits have been filed against 3M, rendering the case the largest MDL (liability multidistrict litigation) in US history. The lawsuits have been centralized under a Florida district court as of 2019.

3M Earplug Defects

The 3M earplugs were designed by Aearo Technologies Inc. in collaboration with US military representatives in the late 1990s. 3M later acquired Aearo and reviewed the earplug in its current version, the Combat Arms Earplug (CAEv2).

The CAEv2 were designed on a particularly useful basis: soldiers would not need to carry 2 sets of earplugs anymore; instead, they would be using the CAEv2, which were dual-ended. This means that if they wear the earplugs one way, they work just like traditional earplugs, but if worn in reverse, they can block certain loud sounds (as in a battlefield) and allow softer sounds to be heard. 

In theory, the CAEv2 would work fine, protecting the hearing of soldiers. They proved problematic because they did not seal properly in all soldiers’ ears, thus leading to hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Furthermore, earplugs were designed so that their stem would not necessarily fit all ear canals, thus loosening during use. 

What Is 3M Claiming?

In short, 3M has refused to admit liability for its product. 3M’s response after the extraordinary number of lawsuits is that the earplug can fail to be effective in noise blocking if worn improperly. 3M has been advertising the CAEv2 as a significant sound and noise-blocking innovation.

Their line of defense also brings forward 3M’s cooperation with the US military. In 3M’s response to the lawsuits, its legal team claims that the company worked closely with the US military to review the CAEv2 and incorporate features that they requested. Typically, this collaboration between 3M and the US military would guarantee that 3M is protected under the government-contractor defense, which claims that governmental immunity is extended to manufacturers who produce equipment for the army which may prove defective in the future. 

3M tried to bring the government-contractor defense in the test trials but was rejected because they were not deemed a government contractor. There has never been a written agreement between the federal government and Aaero Technologies Inc/3M parent company, constituting 3M as a government contractor. 

Take Action Against 3M: Contact Our Expert Legal Team

As mentioned, the MDL against 3M is the biggest in US history and involves thousands of active soldiers and veterans. If you or people you know have been injured due to CAEv2 earplugs, contact us to start taking legal action against 3M.

Note that you will not have to pay any fees to attorneys in an MDL, and you will not be filing a 3m earlplugs lawsuit against the US military or the government. 

Info on the 3M MDL

It is always best to address a few concerns before moving forward with a lawsuit:

  1. You will not lose your VA Disability benefits if you proceed with a 3M lawsuit. 
  2. Not having official military service records may hurt your case. 
  3. More than $300 million have been awarded to US soldiers and veterans as of May 2022. 

If you have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, North-West Pakistan, Somalia, the Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean, the American-led Interventions in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and the Yemeni civil war, you may be eligible for participation in the MDL against 3M.