Defective Military Earplugs

From 2003-2015, 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) were standard issue to millions of American servicemen and women.  These earplugs are defective and failed to provide proper hearing protection, resulting in hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

On July 26, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced 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.”  3M pays $9.1 Million For Defective Earplugs 

DOJ achieved this settlement with 3M through enforcement of the False Claims Act, which allows the federal government to recover taxpayer dollars lost to fraud and abuse.  The DOJ settlement DOES NOT compensate servicemen and women for hearing loss and tinnitus caused by these defective earplugs. 

The U.S. Judicial Panel on MDL Litigation reports that as of January 2021, there are 203,722 plaintiffs who have made claims against 3M for knowingly distributing faulty “CAEv2” earplugs.

The federal judge in charge of this litigation ruled in July 2020 that 3M (the manufacturer of the defective earplugs) could not escape liability by using the “government contractor defense.”  That defense applies if the contractor simply followed detailed government specifications in the design and manufacture of the defective product. The judge concluded that 3M had not proven that the government had provided detailed specifications for the ear plugs. 

Now the court is preparing for the first bellwether trial, set for April 5, 2021.  In early December, five claimants urged the court to combine their cases into one trial on the basis that each case involves the same underlying facts, and that 3M would be calling the same 12 witnesses in all five cases. Despite the five cases spanning four separate states, and therefore four separate sets of law, the claimants argued that the legal differences between the states are not great enough to warrant independent trials.

In a December 30th order, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers chose to consolidate three of these cases—those of Luke and Jennifer Estes, Lewis Keefer, and Stephen Hacker—into a bellwether trial set for April 5, 2021.

Additional trial dates have been set for May 17th and June 7th for the other 2 bellwether plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs lawyers say that the number of veterans suffering from hearing loss due to these earplugs could be as high as 800,000.

To receive compensation for hearing loss and tinnitus caused by 3M’s defective earplugs, servicemen and women must file individual claims.  If you served during any time from 2003-2015, used earplugs like the dual-ended earplugs pictured above, and suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus, contact us toll free at (877) 704-7674 for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

In return for risking your life for the rest of us, you trusted military contractors to provide you with the best equipment and technology.  3M breached that trust for 13 years by supplying defective earplugs and doing nothing to correct that defect.  Let us help you make 3M pay for the damages caused by its breach of trust.  

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