3M faces 200,000 lawsuits over Combat Arms military earplugs, first trial scheduled for April 2021

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by soldiers and veterans with hearing loss linked to 3M's Combat Arms military earplugs.

The first lawsuits against 3M alleging that the company’s Combat Arms earplugs caused hearing loss in veterans are scheduled to go to trial next month in Florida. The lawsuits are among the more than 200,000 lawsuits that have been filed against 3M over the company’s earplugs, making the case the largest mass tort litigation in history.

The three cases that are part of the lawsuit that will go to trial in April were filed by Luke and Jennifer Estes, Lewis Keefer, and Stephen Hacker. All four plaintiffs allege that they used 3M’s Combat Arms Ear Plugs during military service and suffered hearing loss and/or tinnitus as a result of the defective design of these products.

3M’s Combat Arms earplugs have a distinctive yellow and black design. When the earplugs are worn using the black end, they work just like normal earplugs. When the yellow end of the earplugs is worn, they are designed to block out only louder noises so that speech and other low-level sounds can still be heard.

Hundreds of thousands of military personnel used 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs between 2003 and 2015. Between 2003 and 2012, they were the only earplugs that were provided to soldiers in the U.S. military, including the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy.

3M Combat Arms Earplugs Linked to Permanent Hearing Loss

The thousands of lawsuits filed against 3M allege that the Combat Arms Earplugs were ineffective at preventing hearing damage caused by gunfire, explosions, or other loud noises during combat.

Tests performed by Aero Technologies, the company who originally developed the earplugs, found that the product was less than half as effective at reducing loud noises as the minimum safety requirements of the U.S. military. Yet in spite of these findings, Aero and 3M falsely certified to the armed forces that Combat Arms earplugs met government’s safety standards and continued selling these products to the military for 13 years.

Because 3M’s earplugs were not as effective at preventing hearing damage as the company claimed them to be, tens of thousands of veterans and soldiers have developed hearing loss as a result of their unnecessary exposure to loud noises during their military service.

The first lawsuit against 3M over the company’s Combat Arms Earplugs was filed in 2018. Since then, at least 203,000 additional lawsuits have been filed against 3M by veterans and soldiers who allege that they developed hearing loss, hearing damage, or tinnitus as a result of the defective design of this product.

Thousands of Military Earplugs Lawsuits Consolidated in MDL

Because of the high number of lawsuits that have been filed over 3M’s Combat Arms ear plugs, in 2019, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these cases in a multidistrict litigation or (MDL) in Florida. MDLs are designed to speed up the discovery process for complex litigation like the 3M lawsuits in order to make it easier for plaintiffs and defendants to reach a settlement agreement.

After the 3M MDL was created, the Florida U.S. District Court that was chosen to handle the litigation selected four trial groups consisting of six cases to serve as bellwether cases for the lawsuits. Bellwether cases help to provide the parties in an MDL and the court that is hearing the cases with information about the strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiffs’ case in order to help determine the settlement value of each individual case.

After the first 3M bellwether cases go to trial in April, the the Florida U.S. District Court where the Combat Arms lawsuits are being tried will hold additional bellwether trials that involve other aspects of this litigation. Legal experts who are involved in the lawsuits against 3M have predicted that a final settlement in the litigation will not be reached until late 2021 or 2022, meaning that veterans and soldiers who suffered hearing loss as a result of using Combat Arms earplugs still have time to file a lawsuit and join the litigation.

Free Legal Consultation for Veterans with Hearing Damage

If you or a loved one used 3M Combat Arms earplugs while serving in the Air Force, Army, Marines, or Navy between 2003 and 2015 and have been diagnosed with with unilateral or bilateral hearing loss, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against 3M and receive compensation for your injuries. The first step in taking legal action is to consult with an attorney to find out more about whether you may qualify to file a case.

For more information about the earplugs lawsuits that have been filed against 3M and to learn whether you are eligible to file a claim, contact the lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117 to schedule your free legal consultation. You can also reach us by filling out our free case evaluation form, located on the right side of this page for desktop users, and on the bottom of the page for mobile users.

After we receive your submission, one of our staff members will contact you to obtain any additional information that we need and to help you schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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