The first concrete ruling in the multidistrict litigation over 3M’s defective earplugs was made on July 27, 2020, in Florida by U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers. A federal judge has denied the manufacturer’s claim for government contractor defense, which protects companies from liability for defective products designed and produced for the federal government.

3M was looking to use this defense to end lawsuits filed by veterans who have been affected by defective military earplugs. Plaintiff attorneys are pleased with the court’s decision to reject 3M’s defense. The company’s internal emails and testimony are further evidence of how 3M failed to inform the military of their defective earplugs.

What Are the Allegations Against 3M’s Earplugs?

U.S. military veterans from across the nation have filed defective 3M earplug lawsuits claiming the devices failed to protect them from long-term hearing disabilities. The lawsuit also claims that 3M and Aearo Technologies sold the earplugs, knowing that they were defective.

The most common disability affecting men and women serving in the United States military is hearing loss. By the end of 2014, over 933,000 veterans had received hearing loss disability compensation, and around 1.3 million veterans received compensation for tinnitus, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Dangerous sound levels are unavoidable on the battlefield, and during training, however, thousands of U.S. troops were needlessly put at risk of hearing loss by using 3M’s defective earplugs. 

The 3M earplugs were distributed to military service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2015. 3M marketed the earplugs as being dual-purposed as one end of the earplug would allow speech to be heard, while the other end would protect from dangerous levels of sound. It was later discovered that the earplugs were too short for proper insertion and would loosen during use, thus failing to provide adequate ear protection.

3M’s Defense Is Now Invalid

The ruling from Judge M. Casey Rodgers states that there is insufficient evidence from 3M to use the government contractor’s defense. Rodgers’ ruling explained that the earplugs’ design already existed before the U.S. Military requested the product. She also said that there are no records of the U.S. Military asking for a design proposal from 3M or any other interested contractor. The new 3M earplug lawsuit judge ruling means that litigation against the negligent manufacturer can move forward. 

3M Says the Military Mandated Earplug Design

Contrary to Judge Rodgers’ ruling, 3M claimed that their “CAEv2” earplugs were designed in close collaboration with the U.S. military. 3M said in a statement that they are reviewing the product and options in the case.

The full statement issued by the company reads: 

“The parties’ cross-motions on the government contractor defense were part of this litigation’s preliminary proceedings aimed at determining whether the plaintiffs’ claims fail as a threshold matter based on the current record. We are reviewing our options with respect to the Court’s decision, continuing to take discovery, and look forward to proving our case at trial. We remain confident the evidence will show that the CAEv2 product, which was developed in response to the U.S. military’s request and based on its own specifications and testing, was not defective and did not cause injuries.”

According to reports, 3M saw low revenues for the second quarter as sales decreased by 12.2% ($7.2 billion from $8.2 billion in the same period last year). While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant complications for the company, the ongoing earplug lawsuits have also caused setbacks.

More 3M Earplug Lawsuits Will Be Filed, Connecting With Injured Veterans

As the multidistrict litigation for 3M earplugs makes significant progress towards victims’ compensation, more veterans will seek legal counsel. The recent 3M earplug lawsuit judge ruling will entice more injured veterans to file a lawsuit. At Broughton Partners, our goal is to help fight corporate negligence by connecting personal injury law firms with qualified mass tort claimants such as those affected by 3M’s defective earplugs. 

We have developed a groundbreaking legal marketing service that provides attorneys with more than just a lead; we go a step further by thoroughly vetting and pre-qualifying the leads we find before sending them to you. The 3M earplug claimants you receive from us are qualified and meet your law firm’s specific case criteria.

If your law firm is looking to help more veterans suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus due to 3M’s earplugs, contact our team today for a free consultation.