3M Combat Arms Ear Plug Lawsuit
3M Ear Plugs Lawsuit
Veterans who served in the military between 2003 to 2015 and have experienced hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing problems after using 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs may be eligible to pursue a claim and seek financial compensation.
From 2003 to 2015, 3M supplied the US Government at least 500,000 pairs of Combat Arms Ear Plugs to prevent hearing loss among soldiers in active duty. The company claimed that the product passed all required testing and met material regulatory standards required.
Unfortunately, design flaws and product defects were later discovered, resulting in an increase in hearing problems among active-duty members and veterans.
If you or a loved one have experienced hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing issues after using 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs while in military service, contact Maxwell Law Group LLP today. We can answer your questions and review your case for free.
What are 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs?
3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs are military standard-issue ear plugs used to protect soldiers’ hearing when surrounded by loud noises, usually during combat. The ear plug is dual-ended and offers two types of hearing protection depending on which end is inserted into the ear.
The yellow end filters loud impulse noises while allowing the soldier to hear verbal commands and low-level noises while the green (or darker) end gives protection against high-decibel, constant noises like machinery, aircraft, and armored vehicles.
3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs were initially manufactured by Aearo Technologies, which was acquired by 3M in 2008 for $1.2 billion. The company supplied these ear plugs to the US military from 2003 to 2015, with the estimated quantity provided ranging from 500,000 to 2.25 million pairs.
Important Note: On July 26, 2022, 3M revealed that it is planning to file bankruptcy protection for the unit that creates the military-issued ear plugs in hopes of drawing a line on the lawsuits which affected the company’s shares. 3M confirmed having started Chapter 11 proceedings in Indiana.
3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs Quick Facts
Protection against hearing loss among military personnel in active duty
Too short to properly fit in ear and other false claims
2003 to 2015
Aearo Technologies (acquired by 3M in 2008)
Who Used 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs?
The 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs were used by active-duty members deployed in Afghanistan, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia and Djibouti, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen. The Ear Plugs were also utilized in routine training, air and military bases, and used by members of the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
- Tinnitus (intermittent and continuous ringing in the ears)
- Hearing sounds in quiet environments, including buzzing, whistling, clicking, and hissing
- Sensitivity to sounds
- Difficulty in hearing others
3M Combat Arms Ear Plug Design Flaws
There are several issues that plagued the 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs, including design flaws and a failure to give proper instructions on how to wear the device to ensure proper protection.
Lawsuits against 3M allege that test results of the Combat Arms Ear Plugs were manipulated to comply with product standards set by the government. Moreover, Aearo and 3M allegedly knew that the ear plugs were too short to properly fit users, and that the ear plugs could loosen gradually without being noticed by the user.
Another design issue with the ear plugs is with regard to the flanges. The largest flange from the unused end blocks the used end from proper insertion into the user’s ear. While the device’s packaging suggests that a better fit can be obtained by simply rolling or folding back the large flange from the unused side, it was unclear that modifying the flange was actually required to achieve full noise reduction. Without this manual modification by the user, the ear plug did not provide the indicated hearing protection to the user.
3M Combat Arms Ear Plug False Claims
The company’s claims on the effectiveness of the double-ended Combat Arms Ear Plugs has also been questioned. The yellow end of the earplug, which had a stated 0 decibel rating and allowed users to hear verbal commands may have actually had a -2 decibel rating. This negative rating means the ear plugs actually amplified sounds while making verbal commands harder to hear.
The company also claimed that the green end of the earplug has a 22 decibel reduction rating, but there is evidence to suggest that the green end only provides about decibel reduction of half that amount., This diminished effectiveness may have caused damage to users and potentially permanent hearing loss.
In 2015, it is estimated that the Department of Veteran Affairs spends over $1 billion annually in compensation for hearing loss treatment for more than 800,000 veterans.
3M Combat Arms Ear Plug Lawsuits
In July 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million as settlement for allegations that it was aware of some of the defects of the Combat Arms Ear Plugs, but yet still continued to sell them to the government without informing the government of the defects.
There are several cases filed in federal courts in California, Texas, Oklahoma and Minnesota. On April 3, 2019, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to consolidate all 3M hearing loss lawsuits into multidistrict litigation (MDL 2885) and shall be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
On April 2021, a $7 million verdict was awarded to three 3M earplugs plaintiffs in a federal jury in Florida.
The second and third 3M trials were held in Florida on June 2021. The second trial concluded favoring 3M, while the third one awarded a $1.7 million verdict to the plaintiff.
On October 2021, the US Court of Appeals 8th Circuit denied 3M’s request to maintain all earplugs lawsuits in federal court. This means claims filed by civilians who purchased the product in a commercial setting could be processed in a state court.
Another lawsuit concluded with over $13 million in damages awarded to the plaintiff on November 2021, making the average jury award at $5 million.
On January 28, 2022, two plaintiffs were awarded a $110 million verdict in a 3M earplugs lawsuit. Each plaintiff received $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages.
Two separate 3M ear plug trials on March 2022 both awarded damages worth millions to veteran plaintiffs. $50 million in damages was awarded to an army veteran in Pensacola, Florida, while another trial in Tallahassee awarded $8 million to an Army National Guard veteran.
On May 20, 2022, a Florida jury awarded $77.5 million to a US army veteran who suffered hearing loss due to 3M Combat Arms earplugs. This was last trial in the initial set of bellwether trials, with 10 verdicts awarding plaintiffs with a combined total of $300 million. This also marks the largest jury verdict yet awarded to a single plaintiff for the 3M earplugs lawsuit.
How Maxwell Law Group Can Help
If you or a loved one have experienced hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing problems after using 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs while in military service, Maxwell Law Group can help get you the compensation you deserve. Call (844) 525-7155 or fill out the form below take the first step in protecting your rights.
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