Active service members and veterans across the country have been diagnosed with numerous hearing related health issues that may be linked to faulty 3M combat arms earplugs. Over 290,000 affected military service members have filed suit, triggering the consolidation of cases in multidistrict litigation (MDL).
May 2022 update: On Friday May 20, 2022, the final MDL bellwether trial concluded when 3M was ordered to pay $77.5 million to a veteran who suffered hearing damage in the final bellwether trial.
This follows a $2.2 million verdict awarded to a veteran in the 15th bellwether trial decided earlier in the month and a decision in favor of 3M in the 14th bellwether trial.
3M has won 6 of the 16 bellwether trials to date. All others have resulted in significant monetary compensation to veterans.
Over 20,000 cases were also transferred from the administrative docket to the active docket, and will go through pretrial discovery in the coming months.
The 3M earplug MDL is said to be the largest mass tort lawsuit in history. 3M acquired Aearo Technologies in 2008, who were the original producers of the defective earplugs and under contract to the U.S. government.
Instead of blocking soundwaves, the earplugs were too short for proper insertion in the ear canal, causing them to loosen and not protect service members from potentially harmful sounds.
Veterans claim defective earplugs cause serious injuries, ranging from tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) to partial or total hearing loss.
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