More than 140,000 veterans have filed complaints of hearing loss after using 3M Combat Arms earplugs while serving. The judge presiding over the lawsuits has identified 20 of these complaints as the initial pool of bellwether cases to be worked up for trial next year. The judge has also chosen five alternate cases.
What is the 3M Combat Arms Earplug Defect?
The veterans are suing 3M Company, alleging that the company knew about a defect in the earplug. The earplugs were designed to be dual-ended, whereby the user could insert the plugs one way to completely block out sound. The user could wear the plugs another way to be able to hear commands but cancel out sound from gunfire or explosions. The allegation is that the earplugs do not ensure a proper fit, and may loosen in the ear canal, rendering the product ineffective and potentially leading to permanent hearing damage, such as hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ear). The U.S. military issued these earplugs to soldiers for use during training and in combat between 2003 and 2015. However, the claims allege that, although 3M knew of this design defect, it continued to sell thousands of pairs of faulty earplugs.
What is a Bellwether Trial?
Over 140,000 complaints lodged against 3M concerning the Combat Arms earplugs all have similar allegations. The cases have been filed all over the country. Give the similarities in each of the lawsuits, the cases were consolidated under one umbrella in a multi-district litigation (MDL). This MDL is centralized in one court before one judge—this time, before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida. As an MDL, the cases undergo coordinated discovery, as well as pretrial proceedings. These proceedings include what are known as bellwether trials. Bellwether trials are typically a sample of cases selected for additional discovery and preparation to go before juries. They often help to gauge how the remainder of trials will unfold.
Can I Join the 3M Combat Arms Earplug Litigation?
If you or a loved one used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs during your service in the U.S. military and suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus, please contact us by submitting the form or by calling us at (888) 984-7988 for a confidential evaluation of your potential claim. It’s not too late to investigate your claim.