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3M Earplugs Injury FAQ

Chicago Defective Products Lawyer Answers Frequently Asked Questions About Earplug Injuries and Lawsuits

People who serve in the military are often involved in dangerous situations, and they face a number of issues that can place them at risk of injury or otherwise threaten their health. Service members are provided with different types of safety equipment, and they expect that this equipment will provide them with the proper protection against harm. However, if this equipment is defective, members of the military may experience serious injuries or permanent disabilities. One issue that has been discovered in recent years is the increased risk of hearing loss and related issues due to defective earplugs that did not adequately protect against damage from loud noises. Our firm provides representation for veterans and other service members who have been injured by these earplugs, and we can answer questions about the legal options available in these cases.

How Many Military Members Were Affected by Defective Earplugs?

Starting in 2002, Aearo Technologies Inc. received an exclusive contract to provide combat earplugs to the U.S. military. 3M, a major international corporation, acquired Aearo Technologies in 2008, and the contract with the military lasted through 2015. Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were issued to more than two million service members during this contract. These earplugs were used in combat situations by troops deployed to foreign countries, as well as in training exercises and on airfields where people were regularly exposed to loud noises that could potentially cause hearing loss injuries.

Was 3M Aware that Earplugs Were Defective?

Based on evidence submitted in a lawsuit against 3M by the U.S. Department of Justice, it has been alleged that the company was aware the earplugs provided to the military were too short to provide adequate protection against hearing loss for some users. While the military required the manufacturer to certify that earplugs met the proper standards, the company did not disclose that internal tests showed that earplugs that had not been properly fitted failed to meet the military's standards. While the manufacturer was required to provide detailed instructions to ensure that earplugs would be inserted properly by their users, they stopped doing so after Aearo Technologies was acquired by 3M. This lack of proper instructions greatly increased the risks of hearing loss for service members who used the earplugs.

Have Lawsuits Against 3M to Address Defective Earplugs Been Successful?

In 2018, the Department of Justice and 3M reached a settlement in which 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million because it had supplied defective earplugs to the military. While 3M did not admit any liability, and the settlement addressed the military's financial losses rather than injuries by any individual service members, the outcome of this case indicated that the company had knowingly provided earplugs that did not adequately protect against hearing loss.

Since 2019, thousands of military members have initiated lawsuits against 3M, and many of these lawsuits have been grouped together into multi-district litigation (MDL), allowing many of the same relevant facts and evidence to be considered in multiple cases. Between May and October of 2021, multiple "bellwether" trials have been held, and the majority of these have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts against 3M. Based on the results of these trials and other trials that will be held in the near future, others who have been injured may have a good chance of success when pursuing lawsuits against 3M and seeking compensation for their injuries.

Contact Our Illinois 3M Earplugs Injury Attorney

If you are a current or former member of the military who has suffered hearing loss or tinnitus after using 3M CAEv2 earplugs, we can help you determine your best options for pursuing financial compensation. To set up a free consultation, contact our office at 866-553-9812.

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