Keller Postman represents servicemembers and veterans who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus from using 3M’s faulty dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (“CAEv2”). Our clients’ lawsuits against 3M allege that the earplugs failed to protect servicemembers from exposure to loud noises, causing hearing loss and other injuries.
In training and in combat, the brave men and women of our military are subject to machinery, gunfire, explosions, and other noise that requires adequate hearing protection. We know our clients have sacrificed to serve our country, and the severe harm 3M’s negligence has caused them is reprehensible.
Evidence shows that 3M was aware of a defect in the design of CAEv2 but sold them to the military regardless. Evidence also shows that 3M falsified test results to conceal the CAEv2’s defects from the government and secure an exclusive contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. In doing so, 3M never warned the users of the CAEv2 – servicemembers in our nation’s military – of the danger associated with using these faulty plugs.
In 1999, Aearo Technologies began selling the CAEv2 to the military, without performing industry-mandated testing on the plugs. When Aearo did perform such testing, it showed serious defects in the plug’s design. Rather than halting any further sales and recalling the product, Aearo (through aggressive marketing) was eventually able to negotiate an exclusive contract to provide the CAEv2 to the military. In 2008, 3M acquired Aearo and took over the manufacturing, marketing, and sales of the CAEv2. 3M took no action to address the issues related to the CAEv2, despite having files in their possession documenting the plug’s defects.
The U.S. Department of Justice eventually led an investigation into whether 3M defrauded the federal government in hiding key facts about the defects related to the CAEv2. That investigation found that the military was unaware of the plugs’ defects, and that had they been informed, they may have declined to purchase the earplugs. In connection with this investigation, 3M paid a $9.1m settlement to the DOJ.
More than 250,000 servicemembers and veterans have brought claims against 3M, alleging life-altering hearing damage and irreversible hearing-related injuries. The thousands of lawsuits that Keller Postman has filed against 3M allege that the company sold defective CAEv2 to the military and failed to provide adequate warnings related to their use.
These lawsuits have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida under Judge M. Casey Rodgers. The court appointed Keller Postman Partner Nicole Berg to plaintiffs’ leadership. Our entire team at Keller Postman is working to secure recoveries for our servicemember clients and obtain the justice that they so rightfully deserve.
Meet the attorneys leading the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs litigation.
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The earplugs at issue in these lawsuits are 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (“CAEv2”). These earplugs were manufactured for and used by military service members from 2003 to 2015. Aearo Technologies originally developed the earplugs, and 3M later acquired Aearo in 2008. These earplugs are non-linear, “selective attenuation earplugs” and their design includes two inverted cones connected by a stem. If the wearer inserts the yellow end inside the ear, the plug significantly reduces loud noises, but the wearer can still hear spoken words (such as orders on the battlefield). If the wearer puts the black end into the ear, it blocks sound as a standard earplug would.
In July 2018, the United States Department of Justice announced in a press release that 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million “to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to the United States military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device.” After the news broke of the DOJ’s settlement, independent claimants soon began filing lawsuits against 3M.
The CAEv2 earplugs are defective due to a number of issues within their design. They are too short for proper insertion, too wide for proper insertion, and too stiff to conform to the user’s inner ear. In addition, the outward-facing flanges of the plug could catch on the external geometry of a user’s ear canal, make it easy for the plug to “back out” of a subject’s ear imperceptibly, subjecting them to damaging noise.
We unfortunately cannot predict with any certainty how long it will take for cases to resolve. Litigation is unpredictable. 3M could decide to settle tomorrow or take every case to trial and then appeal. There is no way to know just yet. But we will keep this page updated and also ensure that our clients are notified with any key developments.
Not yet. While hundreds of thousands of servicemembers and veterans have filed claims against 3M for hearing damage related to use of the 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, no claims have been settled at this time.
No, these lawsuits are not against the U.S. government or the U.S. military. Claimants in the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs litigation are only suing 3M. In fact, the government sued 3M for making fraudulent claims about the safety of the CAEv2.
We know of no reason why suing 3M would affect your position in the military. We are aware of a number of other lawsuits by servicemembers against government contractors like 3M and have not heard of any issues.
Unfortunately, we cannot currently make an accurate prediction at this moment in time. The amount of any potential settlement or damages award would depend on factors such as how severe a plaintiff’s injuries are (the severity of their tinnitus or hearing loss), and treatment history. As the litigation progresses, we may learn more about the range of possible outcomes and will keep our clients updated.
3mearplugmdl.com: Official website of the court-appointed plaintiff leadership in In Re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation. The site includes more information about the litigation, relevant timelines, news coverage, filings and & key documents.
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