The legal battle over 3M’s Combat Earplugs, which has amounted to 140,000 plaintiffs and hundreds of related actions, recently had a Florida courtroom debating for summary judgment in early April. Military personnel claimed that 3M’s defense of having worked closely with the government to design the earplugs doesn’t hold up since 3M also sold the earplugs to regular civilians.
3M believes their argument of following government instruction should give them preemption from the lawsuit. They also claim that the government knew about the defect in the earplugs but continued with the product anyway. The plaintiffs dispute this by alleging 3M had more control over the design of the earplugs than they’re admitting, suggesting the errors in the design of the product came from willful decisions on the part of 3M. Further, the plaintiffs say that there’s no discrepancy between federal and state laws in the case as 3M has claimed.
The exact communication between 3M and the government regarding the earplugs is still being contended. 3M claims that the government had audio professionals looking into the defect early on, while the plaintiffs claim the specifications of the combat earplugs were never approved by the government in the first place.