3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit

Please Note: We are NO LONGER Accepting New Clients for the 3M Earplugs Lawsuit

We are NO LONGER Accepting Clients for the 3M Earplugs Lawsuit

3M agreed to settle lawsuits filed by veterans suffering from hearing loss and other hearing injuries, such as tinnitus, for over $6 billion.

The settlement was agreed to in late August 2023.

Our law firm is no longer accepting clients for the 3M Earplugs Lawsuit.

Contact our law firm with any questions or concerns you may have, but please note we are not accepting new clients for the 3M Earplugs Lawsuit. 

 

Table of Contents
3M Earplugs Lawsuit; 3M Ear Plugs Lawsuit; 3M CombatArms Earplugs Lawsuit; 3M Combat Arms Earplug Lawsuit; 3M Ear Plug Lawsuit

What Are 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?

What Are 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?

Between 2003 and 2013, 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 were the exclusive hearing protection product used in numerous military conflicts by all branches of the United States military, including the:

  • Navy
  • Army
  • Marines
  • Air Force

The 3M Arms Earplugs Version 2 was designed to protect against loud noises and hearing loss from gunfire, explosions, bombings, and vehicles.

Initially manufactured by Aearo Technologies, later acquired by 3M in 2008, the dual-ended combat arms earbuds were found to be defective after years of widespread use and distribution across the military.

Instead of blocking soundwaves, the earbuds were too short for proper insertion in the ear canal, causing them to loosen and not properly protect service members from potentially harmful sounds.

Veterans claim defective earplugs cause serious injuries – injuries as a result of the defective earbuds range from tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) to partial or total hearing loss.

You may qualify for a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit if you are a current or former service member, who served between 2003 and 2015, and suffer from:

  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing loss
    • Partial or total hearing loss

3M Earplugs Defects

In 2003, the government issued an RFP, or government contract proposal, to Aearo Technologies to create an earplug that would be included in standard military gear.

The company falsely certified the Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 was up to the designated standards by confirming they had a certain noise reduction rating (NPR) and would protect military members from damaging sounds.

Proper testing was careless and negligent, yet the company confirmed to the government the earbuds tested at the required 22 NPR rate.

In reality, the noise-canceling side of the 3M earplug tested at an average rate of about -2 NPR, acting as an amplifier.

The flip-side of the earplug, which allows some noise to enter the ear, tested at 10.9 NPR, a vast difference in hearing protection from what was presented in fabricated test results.

 

3M combat arms earplugs; 3M earplugs; personal injury; Tinnitus; military earplugs; earplug noise reduction;

Testing Showed Design Defect

During testing, results showed the 3M earplug, in fact, was not as effective as intended, not only because of the lower NPR rate, but also because of a design defect that caused them to loosen in the ear canal as a result of the earbud itself being too short to be properly inserted.

According to a whistleblower lawsuit filed by the Moldex-Metric, Inc. on behalf of the US Department of Justice, 3M and Aearo have known since as early as 2000 that the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were defective.

After acquiring Aearo, 3M hired Aearo employees, including developers, who were aware of the product defect through pre-market testing in 2000.

Aearo Technologies and its parent company 3M failed to acknowledge or notify the design defects to the United States government and consequently put the health of service members across military branches at risk.

The whistleblower lawsuit was resolved in July 2018 with 3M agreeing to pay a $9.1 million settlement, but it is far from the end for legal action against 3M for their defective earplugs.

Service Members Who Received Defective Earplugs

Service Members Who Received Defective Earplugs

The defective earbuds were standard issue to all military personnel during the following military conflicts:

  • The Iraq War
  • War in Afghanistan
  • War in North-West Pakistan (part of War on Terror)
  • War in Somalia
  • Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
  • American-led intervention in Libya (2011- part of Libyan Crisis)
  • American-led intervention in Iraq (2014 – 2017)
  • American-led intervention in Syria (2014 to present)
  • Yemeni Civil War (2015 to present)
  • American Intervention in Libya (2015 to present)

Do 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Cause Hearing Loss?

The 3M earplug was designed as an inverted cone shape, meant to be used in two different ways, signified by colors on either side of the plug.

The green side of the 3M earplug allows for some hearing at a slightly muted level, meant to be used in situations like using a radio or listening to a conversation.

The other, yellow end of the earbuds would provide more extensive noise protection, and is meant to be used in situations where hearing protection is crucial, such as when around gunfire, vehicles, explosions, and other loud noises.

Do 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Cause Hearing Loss?

A major defect with the 3M earplug was not disclosed to the government.

After providing the 3M earplug to servicemembers for years, the defect brought to light the significant hearing damage the earbuds could have caused to service members who used them.

Rather than being a hearing protector, a lack of proper insertion into the user’s ears caused irreparable hearing loss and disabilities.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, veterans who served overseas, specifically during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom between September 2001 and March 2010, were four times more likely to suffer from significant hearing loss than non-veterans.

According to the comprehensive 2017 Annual Benefits Report published by the Veterans Benefits Administration, auditory disabilities were the number two cause of treatment between 2013 and 2017.

In 2017, 3,101,223 men and women were treated for auditory disabilities.

Tinnitus and hearing loss are the top two service-connected disabilities treated by the Veteran’s Administration.

Tinnitus accounts for 7.7%, or 1,786,980 and hearing loss accounts for 5.0% or 1,157,585 of all disabilities.

However, the number of affected individuals may be higher because many do not report their injuries or seek treatment.

Proper protection for soldiers is vital when faced with life or death situations while protecting our country.

For companies that do business with the government, all should be providing properly made safety equipment for military members.

It seems that the 3M earplug did not meet these standards despite its extensive use throughout military branches.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in the years.

While not considered a medical condition, it is an underlying cause of medical issues such as an ear injury or Auditory processing disorder (APD).

For military members who used the 3M Combat Arms Earbuds Version 2, tinnitus could be a result of permanent hearing damage from not being properly protected when around deafening noises while deployed during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

What is Tinnitus?

If you believe you are suffering from tinnitus, hearing loss, or Auditory processing disorder (APD), contact a medical professional to diagnose your injuries.

Do 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Cause Tinnitus?

Yes.

Among the other hearing-related injuries associated with the 3M earplug, tinnitus is one of the injuries caused by the 3M earplug defect.

If you developed tinnitus during your time in the service, it could be the fault of 3M’s defective product.

You likely qualify to participate in the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit.

Is Having a Hearing Aid Considered a Disability?

According to the ADA, hearing loss is considered a disability and individuals that suffer from permanent hearing loss can qualify for disability.

Whether you qualify for disability due to hearing loss depends on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the type of hearing loss, the severity of hearing loss, and whether the hearing loss is permanent.

Is Having a Hearing Aid Considered a Disability?

The ADA offers a comprehensive hearing loss guideline to help determine your rights and whether you qualify as disabled.

3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit Settlements

3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit Settlements

3M has already agreed to settlements with a number of service members who have suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, and other injuries linked to the 3M Combat Arms earplugs.

There are upwards of 250,000 pending 3M earplug lawsuits in multidistrict litigation.

What is the Average Payout For the 3M Earplug Lawsuit?

3M Earplug lawsuit settlements differ from case to case and depend heavily on the specifics surrounding each service member’s injuries.

Based on the 3M Combat Arms earplugs lawsuit settlements that have been disclosed so far, service-members who have suffered partial hearing loss have received settlements ranging from $50,000 to $300,000.

As time goes on, more information on settlement amounts will be available. Currently, there is not enough public information available to determine the settlement range for more serious permanent hearing loss.

3M Earplug Lawsuit Bellwether Trials

Bellwether trials relating to nationwide 3M Earplug lawsuits have recently awarded two Army veterans $110 million for injuries and damages.

The veterans were each awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages.

3M plans to appeal these rulings.

Plaintiffs and 3M have split bellwether rulings, with plaintiffs winning out on 5 of the last 10 trials over damages relating to 3M earplugs.

Other settlements awarded against 3M include an $8.2 million ruling, a $22.5 million ruling, and a $1.7 million ruling.

The 3M Earplug Lawsuit: The Biggest Mass Tort in History

As millions used the 3M earplug and hundreds of thousands have filed lawsuits alleging hearing-related injuries, the case against 3M and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies is positioned to become the largest mass tort case ever.

Other Legal Action Against 3M

Other Legal Action Against 3M

3M has been named in a number of lawsuits across the country over the years, paying out millions of dollars in settlements for environmental contamination, among other issues.

Environmental Contamination

In October 2021, 3M agreed to pay a $98 million settlement for the contamination of the Tennessee River near its Decatur, Alabama facility.

3M’s manufacturing and disposal of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS or forever chemicals, triggered the lawsuits.

PFAS contamination has been a legal issue for the company, as 3M has faced lawsuits in California, New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois.

3M paid out over $65 million to residents of a New York town who filed a lawsuit over drinking water contaminated with the toxic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Product Liability

3M has been named in a lawsuit which alleges that faulty breathing equipment killed 2 California firefighters.

3M is also named in another lawsuit involving firefighters: hundreds of current and retired firefighters are suing due to the presence of PFAS or forever chemicals found in protective equipment.

Lawsuits against 3M for a faulty medical device were reinstated in August 2021, alleging “3M’s Bair Hugger can cause deep-joint infections in orthopedic surgeries.”

Coal miners have sued 3M, alleging that faulty or defective masks contributed to their pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung, diagnoses.

Financial Implications for 3M

Financial Implications for 3M

3M is a widely recognized manufacturer of everyday consumer products, healthcare materials, safety equipment, and more.

Their annual revenue for 2021 was over $35 billion.

The financial impact this mass tort case against 3M may have on the company’s growth and market share could be troublesome.

According to Bloomberg, 3M’s stock valuation relative to its competitors implies a discount of about $33 billion due to its earplug lawsuits – 3M shares are worth 19% less than they were in July 2018.

After the most recent $110 million settlement, 3M stock prices fell 4% in the days following.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I qualify to participate in a 3M Combat Arms earplug lawsuit?

    In order to qualify to participate in a 3M combat arms earplug lawsuit, you must meet the following requirements.

    You must have:

    1. Served in the US military between 2003 and 2015
    2. Used military issued 3M Combat Arms earplugs during military service
    3. Been diagnosed with unilateral or bilateral hearing loss

    Also, you must NOT have:

    • Waardenburg syndrome
    • Branchiootorenal syndrome
    • Stickler syndrome
    • Usher syndrome
    • Pendred syndrome
    • Alport syndrome
    • Otosclerosis
    • Meniere’s disease

  • What is the status of the 3M earplug lawsuit?

    In late August 2023, 3M agreed to a $6.01 billion settlement to resolve the lawsuits, signaling an end to the litigation.

    This means that from 2023 to 2029, the eligible claimants will receive settlements.

  • How much is my 3M earplug lawsuit worth?

    The average payout for 3M earplug lawsuit settlements differ from case to case and depend heavily on the specifics surrounding each servicemember’s injuries.

    Based on 3M Combat Arms earplugs lawsuit settlements that have been disclosed so far, servicemembers who have suffered partial hearing loss have received settlements ranging from $50,000 to $300,000.

    At this time, there is not enough public information available to determine the settlement range for more serious permanent hearing loss.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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