Defective Combat Earplugs Lawsuits

Lawsuits filed against the 3M Corporation for defective combat earplugs continue to be heard as the multidistrict litigation continues. Thousands of veterans and service members allege they sustained hearing loss and other damages from using the defective 3M combat earplugs. Jury verdicts have included multi-million dollar awards. Continue reading to learn more.

Multidistrict Litigation 

The cases are not part of a class-action lawsuit. Instead, each lawsuit is unique and heard by separate juries based on the allegations of the complaint. 

However, because of the number of lawsuits filed against 3M that contained similar allegations, the courts combined the cases into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) action. The 3M Corp. MDL is centralized in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Judge M. Casey Rodgers presides over the MDL. 

The benefit of an MDL is combining the pre-trial discovery process. It saves time and money for all parties because the cases contain the same or similar allegations that would involve the same pre-trial discovery issues and material.

What Do the 3M Defective Combat Earplug Lawsuits Allege?

The 3M combat earplug lawsuits allege that service members were exposed to loud noises during combat and other situations. The combat earplugs were allegedly designed to protect them from damage to the eardrums, hearing loss, and other injuries from loud noises.

However, the plaintiffs allege that the dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs did not filter peak-level noise. Instead, the defective earplugs allowed loud noise to enter the ear canal, resulting in injuries. 

The lawsuits allege that 3M Corp. knew the combat earplugs were defective. However, it failed to disclose this information to the military. Therefore, many soldiers sustained permanent hearing loss.

The plaintiffs filed lawsuits seeking damages for their injuries. A person may qualify for an earplug lawsuit if they served in the military and used the earplugs during service. 

The veteran or service member would need to prove that they were exposed to loud noises while wearing the earplugs, and they were subsequently diagnosed with tinnitus or hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a common disability claim for veterans. The Veterans Administration reports that over 2.3 million veterans received compensation for tinnitus. In addition, more than 1.3 million veterans receive disability for service-related hearing loss.

Thousands of military members used the 3M combat earplugs from 2003 through 2015. Unfortunately, because of a design defect, the service members were exposed to high noise levels. The result was service-related hearing loss and tinnitus. 

The symptoms of hearing loss and tinnitus caused by combat or other service-related conditions include, but might not be limited to:

  • Difficulty hearing conversations or radio/television programs 
  • Continually asking people to raise their voices or repeat what they said
  • Muffled sounds 
  • Ringing or buzzing in your ears
  • Hypersensitivity to some sounds
  • “Full” sensation in one or both ears
  • Trouble hearing high-pitched sounds
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating on tasks or difficulty sleeping
  • Turning up the volume on cell phones, radios, tablets, televisions, and other devices

If you experience any hearing loss or other symptoms of hearing damage, it is crucial that you seek immediate medical attention. A doctor can accurately diagnose your conditions. 

Documentation of actual hearing loss, tinnitus, or other ear damage is required to prove a defective product liability case against 3M Corp. 

What Damages Can Service Members Receive for Defective Combat Earplug Lawsuits?

The damages awarded for 3M lawsuits include economic damages and non-economic damages

Examples of these damages include:

  • Past and future medical bills and expenses
  • Loss of income and benefits related to hearing loss or tinnitus
  • Diminished earning capacity because of permanent hearing loss
  • Emotional distress, mental anguish, and physical pain and suffering
  • Decrease in the quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments caused by the defective combat earplugs

Some juries have awarded plaintiffs punitive damages. Punitive damages “punish” the defendant for willful, egregious, or gross negligence and are awarded on a case-by-case basis.

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

Over one dozen 3M earplug lawsuits have gone to trial. As of March 2022, 14 bellwether trials had ended or begun.

3M won five out of the first 13 lawsuits to go to trial. Jury verdicts for the other lawsuits ranged from $1.1 million to $110 million. Some lawsuits have multiple defendants. 

So far, 3M Corp. is losing more cases than it has won. The jury verdicts have increased since the first cases were heard. Therefore, the company may be more willing to settle future cases, but no one can be sure.

See your doctor if you suspect you sustained injuries after using 3M Combat Earplugs. Then, contact a St. Louis product liability attorney to discuss your eligibility for a lawsuit. 

Contact Our Product Liability Law Firm For Help Today

For more information, please contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.

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