3M Combat Earplugs Lawsuit

For more than a decade, 3M sold Combat Arms earplugs to the United States military without disclosing they may have a defect that causes hearing loss and tinnitus in some users. 3M paid $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs, but this only reimbursed the government. The thousands of individual service members left with hearing damage from faulty 3M earplugs are pursuing their own lawsuits against the manufacturer. These lawsuits have been consolidated as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Florida federal court. 

U.S. military personnel who used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) might be eligible for a hearing impairment lawsuit. Talk to a lawyer for free

How Did the Problem Come to Light?

In 2016, a whistleblower filed a qui tam lawsuit against 3M under the False Claims Act. The whistleblower claimed 3M knew the earplugs had a defect that could cause them to imperceptibly loosen in the ear, leaving soldiers without proper protection. Despite this, 3M maintained that the earplugs were safe in order to remain the military’s exclusive earplug supplier, the whistleblower said. The Department of Justice settled the lawsuit in 2018. Less than a year later, a federal judicial panel consolidated thousands of hearing loss lawsuits by establishing the 3M Combat Arms Earplug MDL. 

What is Multidistrict Litigation? 

Multidistrict litigation, or MDL, is a special federal legal process that joins together numerous—but similar—lawsuits against the same defendant. The purpose of MDLs is to make it easier to handle complex cases involving a large number of plaintiffs. MDL is different than a class action lawsuit, which treats every claim as essentially the same. MDL plaintiffs maintain their own lawsuit, and if they win their case, they’re entitled to a financial award that reflects their actual losses. 

As of April 2020, the 3M Combat Arms Earplug MDL included claims from more than 140,000 veterans. The number of claims could rise significantly, however, since the earplugs were standard issue in certain branches of the military during foreign conflicts between 2003 and 2015. The 3M whistleblower estimated that millions of soldiers may have been exposed to hearing risk from the earplugs. 

What do the lawsuits against 3M allege? 

The lawsuits allege that the defective design of 3M’s combat earplugs caused soldiers to develop hearing loss and tinnitus. They also allege that 3M knew about the defect and potential harm to soldiers but sold them anyway, without giving warnings about the dangers. 

In their complaint, soldiers say they wore 3M Combat Arms earplugs during training and combat, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. They describe using the plugs for ear protection during live combat and live firing—activities which exposed them to innumerable loud noises and explosions, including from grenade launchers, machine guns, automatic weapons, rocket attacks, car bombings, and low-flying planes. 

Who can file a hearing loss claim over defective 3M earplugs?

Service men and women who used CAEv2 earplugs in the military between 2003 and 2015, and have been diagnosed with partial or total hearing loss or tinnitus, could be eligible for a lawsuit against 3M.

I already receive veterans disability payments for hearing loss, can I still file a lawsuit? 

Yes. Your VA disability payments from the government are completely separate from civil litigation against a private company like 3M. 

Notably, hearing loss and tinnitus are among the top service-connected disabilities among veterans. The VA treats more than 2.8 million veterans for hearing damage, at a cost of more than $1 billion per year. 

What types of compensation could I receive? 

Living with hearing loss or tinnitus can cause pain, suffering, and a reduced quality of life, and you deserve to be compensated for them. 

A lawsuit could cover the costs of hearing loss-related medical expenses, including hearing aids. According to one study, people with hearing loss incurred 33% more health care costs then people without hearing loss. 

In addition, a lawsuit could provide compensation for physical pain and mental anguish. Side effects such as anxiety and depression are strongly associated with tinnitus. There is no cure for tinnitus, but some patients take medications to manage their symptoms. 

Many patients also report a reduced quality of life with hearing loss and tinnitus. Emotional distress and quality of life reduction are also compensable in a personal injury lawsuit. 

How Can a Lawyer Help? 

Taking on large corporations requires an expert legal team that has a track record of success in these types of cases. As the largest personal injury law firm in the country, we’ve taken on negligent companies countless times and recovered more than $7 billion for our clients. When we’re on the case, 3M and other corporations know they can’t get away with treating victims unjustly. 

What if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer? 

Everyone can afford a lawyer when they hire us to represent them. We handle all cases on a contingency-fee basis, which means we only get paid if we win your case. There are no upfront fees or costs of any kind during the lawsuit. So no matter your financial situation, you can afford top quality legal representation.

To speak with a lawyer, free of charge, call 855 300 4459 or Contact Us.

Did you find what you need?