A U.S. bankruptcy judge has rejected an attempt by 3M Company to suspend the federal military earplug litigation by placing its Aearo Technologies division into bankruptcy. The judge’s ruling means that nearly 300,000 3M earplug lawsuits filed by military veterans and servicemembers suffering from hearing loss, tinnitus, and other debilitating hearing problems will move forward unimpeded. If you or someone you love served in the Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2003 and 2015, it is likely that you were supplied with 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs, which were standard-issue for all branches of the military during that time, including Reserves and National Guard. Any hearing problems you may be experiencing now may have been caused by the earplugs’ failure to properly seal the ear canal during use. Contact Consumer Safety Watch as soon as possible if you think you may have been adversely affected by side effects of 3M’s military earplugs.
3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs, version 2 (CAEv2) were distributed to all branches of the U.S. military from 2003 through 2015. A U.S. government contractor, 3M sold the earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency for decades, claiming that the earplugs were safe and effective, despite allegedly knowing that they were defective. 3M now faces hundreds of thousands of lawsuits brought by men and women who were harmed by the earplugs. The lawsuits all raise similar claims that the military earplugs, originally developed by Aearo Technologies before it was acquired by 3M in 2008, failed to provide the expected level of hearing protection during combat and training exercises, when users were exposed to potentially damaging sounds like explosions and weapons fire. According to the 3M earplug lawsuits, while the earplugs were meant to provide two levels of function and protection with their dual-ended design, they did not fit properly into the ear canal and therefore did not protect users’ hearing as intended.
More than two million military members may have been adversely affected by hearing damage caused by 3M’s allegedly defective earplugs. Already, nearly 300,000 claims have been brought against 3M by men and women who used the earplugs during combat and training exercises and subsequently developed injuries like irreversible hearing loss and tinnitus. The lawsuits have been centralized in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Florida before U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers. And while 3M has attempted to minimize liability for the earplug lawsuits by having its Aearo division declare bankruptcy, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey J. Graham at a hearing on August 26, refused to grant the full bankruptcy stay. That means the earplug hearing loss lawsuits against 3M Company will be allowed to proceed, despite Aearo’s bankruptcy filing.
The consequences associated with 3M’s allegedly defective military earplugs can be debilitating and long-lasting. If you have suffered from hearing loss, tinnitus, deafness, or another serious hearing problem that you believe to be related to 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs, do not hesitate to speak to a product liability attorney about your legal options. The men and women who serve our country with bravery and loyalty deserve to be protected from avoidable harm and should never be exposed to irreversible injury caused by the very products meant to keep them safe. Juries have largely sided with plaintiffs in the 3M earplug litigation and have awarded millions in damages to affected veterans and servicemembers. As a growing number of lawsuits are brought against 3M, and as 3M’s efforts to avoid responsibility for its defective earplugs continue to be thwarted in court, a 3M earplug settlement becomes more and more likely. Contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out whether you may be eligible for compensation through a 3M earplug hearing loss lawsuit.