Faced with hundreds of thousands of lawsuits filed by military veterans who have suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing problems allegedly caused by its Combat Arms earplugs, 3M Company is attempting to resolve the ongoing military earplug litigation by placing its Aearo subsidiary into bankruptcy and proposing a $1 billion settlement fund for victims. Plaintiffs have prevailed in 10 out of 16 early bellwether trials alleging that 3M’s combat earplugs caused military servicemembers to suffer permanent hearing damage, with juries awarding more than $300 million in total damages during the early stages of the litigation. If you or someone you love has been harmed by 3M military earplugs, contact Consumer Safety Watch as soon as possible. We have seen the considerable harm defective and unreasonably dangerous products can cause, and we can help ensure that you get the legal help you need during your time of need.
3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) were originally developed and manufactured by Aearo Technologies, and when 3M acquired Aearo in 2008, the company continued promoting the earplugs as safe and effective for military servicemembers to use during training exercises and deployments in the Middle East. The earplugs featured a dual-ended design meant to be inserted one way to block out all sound or the other way to let in certain low-level sounds, like conversations and commands, while blocking out loud, damaging noises. However, a growing number of product liability lawsuits allege that the earplugs were too small to fit properly in the ear, which prevented them from providing users with adequate hearing protection. The CAEv2 earplugs were standard issue for all military servicemembers between 2003 and 2015, which means for more than a decade, hundreds of thousands of soldiers routinely exposed to damaging noises in combat zones and during training exercises were left without proper ear protection.
3M has already been named in more than 300,000 product liability lawsuits alleging hearing damage from the company’s CAEv2 earplugs, and new earplug injury claims continue to be filed by former servicemembers who have suffered from debilitating hearing problems like permanent hearing loss and tinnitus since their service. Earlier this summer, the judge presiding over the federal 3M earplug multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Florida ordered 3M to begin settlement discussions with plaintiffs as part of an effort to avoid a flood of individual cases that would have to be scheduled for trial. After failing to reach a settlement agreement with plaintiffs, 3M announced in a July 2022 press release that Aearo Technologies and its related entities have initiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings as part of an effort to “efficiently and equitably resolve all claims determined to be entitled to compensation.” If each individual 3M earplug case goes to trial, the company’s total liability for the litigation could reach tens of billions of dollars in damages. Instead, 3M aims to establish a $1 billion settlement fund and force all earplug hearing loss claims to be resolved through the bankruptcy process.
Lawyers representing plaintiffs in the 3M earplug litigation have dismissed the company’s proposed settlement as grievously inadequate, given that a $1 billion fund would provide less than $5,000 on average to each veteran suffering from hearing loss, tinnitus, and other irreversible hearing problems allegedly caused by 3M’s defective military earplugs. That is a paltry offering compared to the average payout of $30 million per trial juries have awarded in the 3M bellwether trials. If you are struggling with hearing damage that you believe to be related to your use of 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs during your military service, Consumer Safety Watch is here to help. We can put you in touch with a knowledgeable defective military earplug attorney who can ensure that you understand your legal rights and help guide you towards a reasonable resolution to your claim.