3M Defective CAEv2 Military Earplug Cases, Leads or Calls
If your firm is seeking qualified 3M earplug leads, cases and/or calls, Vertical Growth can provide you with claimants who have suffered hearing loss after use of defective Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2. Contact us today to discuss your firm’s intake criteria.
Brief History of 3M Earplug Litigation
Veterans and current service members have sued 3M for their defective Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2). The U.S. military exclusively bought earplugs from 3M between 2003 to 2012 and provided CAEv2 earplugs until 2015. The U.S. attempted to curb hearing issues, which often developed among its service members. However, according to the lawsuits, approximately 800,000 former service members now suffer from hearing damage, such as hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The plaintiffs that have filed suit believe that 3M caused or contributed to this hearing loss.
Service members complained that 3M knowingly manufactured earplugs that failed to block out noise. In an early study, 3M learned that a design defect prevented the earplugs from blocking noise because the CAEv2 was too short, failing to fit properly into the ear stem. 3M could have resolved the problem by redesigning the earplugs or providing instructions on modifying the earplugs. For example, soldiers could have reshaped the earplugs by folding it to fit the ear canal.
Nevertheless, 3M allegedly failed to take such precautions and manipulated its test results to pass government scrutiny. Moreover, evidence discovered in the course of litigation showed that 3M “was aware its earplugs were defective, failed to inform the military, and then joked about how they profited from this deception.” 3M appeared to downplay and hide the problems successfully for many years.
The public only learned of these defects due to a whistleblower complaint filed by a competitor. The competitor notified the U.S. government about the issue, which the U.S. eventually acted on through a false claims act challenge. The false claims act holds individuals and corporations liable for defrauding the government. 3M ultimately paid the United States $9.1 million to settle the allegations. Now, over 150,000 veterans and current service members seek damages from 3M.
Status Litigation & Recent Favorable Rulings for Service Members
U.S. District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers recently entered the first substantial ruling in the lawsuit. Judge Rodgers denied 3M’s motion for summary judgment, which, if granted, would have ended the lawsuit. 3M sought to avoid liability through the government contractor defense. However, the defense maintains strict requirements: it only covers those contractors that design a product according to the government’s specificity.
Judge Rodgers ultimately concluded that 3M did not meet the criteria because 3M (or more accurately, the subsidiary it acquired, Aearo Technologies) had designed the CAEv2 earplugs independently from the government. Evidence showed that 3M designed the earplugs prior to obtaining the government contract. Thus, it appeared as though 3M designed the earplugs without any government specifications in mind. Even though 3M claims that it had addressed some government concerns and factored in government preferences, the judge found no meaningful government approval of the design of the product.
The lawsuits are still ongoing and will likely continue to for some time. Courts have consolidated the cases in a process known as multidistrict litigation (MDL), which allows courts to decide procedural issues in thousands of simultaneous cases.
MDLs help plaintiffs and defendants decide common issues across multiple cases when deciding individual cases are complicated. For example, if there are 1,000 suits related to the same product, and the same chief engineer designed that product, that engineer may have to appear for 1,000 lawsuits, which would be burdensome and time-consuming. Generally, corporations prefer to have their employees, especially high-level employees, do their jobs rather than sit through litigation.
Potential 3M Earplug Settlement and Compensatory Value
3M may want to settle the suits sooner rather than later. Litigating lawsuits, especially many lawsuits, is expensive. Moreover, allegations over defective safety products provided to service members likely lead to bad publicity. Additionally, although past actions may not indicate future actions, 3M has already settled related claims with the government. Most meritorious lawsuits end up settling.
Notably, determining financial compensation, whether through settlement or a jury verdict, will likely be difficult. Each case is different because service members may suffer from various injuries. For both 3M, victims, and jurors, attaching a dollar value to hearing loss will seem arbitrary and difficult. Moreover, they would struggle to determine how much compensation to give for other types of injuries, such as tinnitus. Thus, the amount of compensation someone receives will vary from case to case and likely depends on the severity of any injuries.
Potential Injuries and Legal Claims Arising from 3M CAE v2 Earplugs
If hearing loss or injuries seem minor now, they may develop and become more substantial over time, requiring compensation to cover those costs. Many injuries take several years to develop from a mild annoyance to a severe injury. Moreover, during that time a potential claim may become weakened. For example, with less access to evidence, as a law firm representing an injured party, it may be more difficult linking the product as the cause of the individual’s injury, or the statute of limitations may expire.
Evaluating such a claim may be complex. As noted, each case is unique because each service member may suffer from different symptoms and damages. Determining potential compensation for a 3M earplug claim is typically done on a case-by-case basis. With a successful claim, a victim may be entitled to:
- Compensation for any related medical bills.
- Compensation for permanent injuries, such as hearing loss or tinnitus.
- Loss of income, including from less earning ability due to an impairment.
- Damages for pain and suffering, including emotional pain and suffering.
- Potential punitive damages.