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Defective Combat Earplugs Lawsuits

Published in Product Liability on January 27, 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Product liability lawsuits are continuing to be filed against 3M Corp. These lawsuits allege that the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were defective. The tenth bellwether case is being heard now. 

Plaintiffs allege that a design defect in the 3M dual-sided earplugs cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and other harm. An alleged faulty seal allowed loud noise to penetrate the earplugs.

The 3M earplugs should have protected our military personnel from combat-related hearing loss and tinnitus. But, sadly, thousands of veterans have hearing loss and other damages because a corporation put profits before soldiers’ wellbeing, health, and safety. 

What Is the Status of the 3M Defective Combat Earplugs Lawsuits?

As of December 31, 2022, 3M has won four of the lawsuits. The largest jury verdict to date was $22.5 million. The tenth 3M lawsuit began on January 10, 2022.

The first 3M earplug bellwether trial was decided on May 9, 2021. The jury awarded the three plaintiffs $7.1 million. However, the second trial resulted in a win for the 3M on Mary 28, 2021. 

The third and fourth 3M lawsuits resulted in wins for the plaintiffs. The third jury verdict totaled $1.7 million for the plaintiff. The fourth plaintiff to go to trial received an $8.2 million verdict.

The fifth and sixth 3M combat earplug lawsuits were decided in favor of the defendants. However, the following two trials ended in verdicts for the plaintiffs. 

In the seventh 3M lawsuit, the jury awarded the plaintiff $13 million. In the eighth lawsuit against 3M, the jury awarded the plaintiff $22.5 million. However, the ninth lawsuit gave 3M its fourth victory as the jury ruled in favor of the defense. 

So far, the average jury verdict for plaintiffs has been $5.19 million. Currently, just over 272,400 cases are pending against 3M for defective combat earplugs. If juries continue to rule in favor of plaintiffs approximately 70 percent of the time, 3M Corp. could be liable for trillions of dollars in damages.

Do I Have a Claim Against 3M for Defective Combat Earplugs?

The Veterans Administration reports that 1.3 million veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss as of the fiscal year 2020. In addition, over 2.3 million veterans received compensation for tinnitus.

Thousands of military service members in conflict zones used the 3M dual-ended combat arms earplugs from 2003 to 2015. The earplugs were designed to block loud noises while allowing the service members to communicate. The lawsuits allege that 3M knew there was a design defect, failed to notify the government, and continued to supply the defective earplugs for service members to use. 

If you used 3M combat earplugs and developed tinnitus or combat-related hearing loss, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. Some of the symptoms you should watch for include, but are not limited to:

  • Everything sounds muffled
  • Buzzing or ringing in the ears
  • Feeling a “full” sensation in the ears
  • Hypersensitivity to specific sounds
  • The need to turn up the volume on the television, phone, and other devices
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Difficulty understanding people when they speak 
  • Trouble hearing high-pitched sounds

Veterans who experience hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or other signs of damage to the ears should seek immediate medical attention. A physician can diagnose the condition, which is one of the first steps in seeking compensation for damages caused by defective combat earplugs.

After talking to a doctor, the next step would be to speak with an experienced 3M combat earplugs lawyer. A product liability lawyer can evaluate your case to determine whether you have a claim against 3M for damages caused by defective military earplugs. 

Plaintiffs who filed lawsuits against 3M Corp. have received compensation for pain and suffering damages, in addition to their medical bills, lost wages, and other economic damages. In addition, some juries have awarded plaintiffs punitive damages to punish 3M for egregious, willful, and gross negligence. 

Each 3M Lawsuit is Decided as an Individual Case

The 3M defective earplug litigation is not a class-action lawsuit. Each case is different and separate from the other cases. 

Even though the 3M lawsuits have been combined into a multi-district litigation (MDL), each case is heard individually. Therefore, a different jury decides each case.

Jury members hear the evidence and decide the case based on the specific circumstances presented in court. The individual situations of each plaintiff can impact the outcome of the case.

However, the majority of juries found that 3M was liable. Therefore, if you sustained hearing loss or ear injuries after using 3M combat earplugs, it is worth the time to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your situation. 

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