Were you recently diagnosed with a severe hearing problem, tinnitus, or loss of hearing likely caused by your time in military service? Do you believe that the hazards of the 3M earplug hearing protection led to your significant hearing loss?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent clients injured by defective products, including the 3M earplugs. Call our hearing injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our personal injury lawyers remains private through an attorney-client relationship. We accept all 3M earplug lawsuit cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning no upfront fees are required until the case is resolved.
3M Defective Earplugs are a major problem for military veterans and servicemen and women. These earplugs were issued to troops in the Iraq War, Gulf War, and Afghanistan wars. The earplugs have been found defective because they don’t provide enough protection against noise exposure.
The defective product is believed to cause hearing damage that can lead to tinnitus or even deafness over time! There is no treatment or cure for these ailments. Recent verdicts against 3M have focused more attention on the spate of lawsuits filed against the company and what will happen going forward.
There are over a quarter of a million lawsuits against 3M pending, and the company may be facing serious legal liability. We think that 3M may have no choice but to settle the lawsuits. In the meantime, we are continuously being asked how much a 3M earplug lawsuit is worth.
Hearing Loss Involving Military Veterans and Service Members
A few years ago, a whistleblower stepped forward to speaking out about 3M’s defective earplugs that had been widely distributed among military service members between 2003 and 2015, when they were first issued to troops.
These faulty plugs are now being blamed for hearing loss and tinnitus among veterans of conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan during the 2000s. The company that originally made them, Aeroero was acquired by 3M in the early 2000s who intentionally falsified safety testing which led to a lawsuit filed against both companies with many servicemen suffering permanent disability, as well as life-altering side effects due, do their fraudulent behavior.
The 3M earplugs were used by 72% of servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ear injury was one of the most common medical issues suffered by soldiers engaged in support of the Middle East wars, according to a 2013 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
For an injured service member or veteran, financial compensation could total thousands or even millions of dollars from earplug lawsuits. 3M agreed to pay a hefty $9.1 million fine in early 2015 after the government accused them of releasing defective earplugs that did not protect those using it from noise damage, which led to 3M losing their lawsuit against injured individuals and being forced to take responsibility for its faulty product with this payment.
Legal Advice for Injured Soldiers
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers helps injured soldiers get justice in an earplug lawsuit. We can analyze your own particular claim and let you know what we think it is worth. Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to schedule your free consultation.
As more 3M earplug lawsuits head to trial, the possibility of a settlement approaches.
Hundreds of Thousands of Military Service Members Have Sued
Right now, the number of 3M earplug lawsuits has soared past 200,000. This is because of the large number of military service members who were deployed overseas in the recent wars.
Military personnel used allegedly defective combat earplugs in a number of different overseas theatres with American led intervention, including:
- Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Somalia Operation Ocean Shield
These earplugs were standard issue equipment during the American-led intervention for hearing protection for active-duty members for years.
They were given as part of the equipment that military personnel was supposed to take with them overseas. Using the defective combat earplugs is why hundreds of thousands of military veterans are now experiencing hearing loss.
What Was Wrong with the 3M Earplugs?
Military members, especially those who were sent overseas, are often exposed to loud noises. Without ear protection, they are at risk of hearing loss. United States military members were given hearing protection devices when they were sent overseas.
Specifically, they were given earplugs made by a company called AearoTechnologies. The reason why 3M is the defendant is that they bought Aearo, and they acquired all of the legal liabilities.
Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Were Too Short
These defective earplugs were designed to be dual-ended. One side went into the ear canal and was meant to protect the inner ear from explosions and loud equipment noises. The other side was supposed to allow soldiers to hear what was going on around them, including commands and instructions.
The problem is that these defective dual-ended combat arms earplugs were too short to properly fit inside the ear. This meant that they did not fully go into the ear to provide the needed protection.
In effect, soldiers were left fully exposed to the loud sounds that could cause hearing loss. The dual-ended combat arms earplugs often slipped out of place.
How the Combat Ear Plugs Caused Hearing Loss
The military earplugs caused the following problems for affected soldiers:
- Difficulty hearing spoken words
- Difficult understanding what people are saying
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Loss of balance
- These have had profound effects on hundreds of thousands of lives.
Much of the Hearing Damage Cannot Be Cured
While injured soldiers may be given medical devices, medical treatment or prescriptions, this may just manage the problem. Even hearing aids assistive devices are not enough to restore and hearing loss.
Instead, these veterans may go the rest of their lives with hearing damage. Doctors are still learning whether and how they can treat the hearing problems that soldiers developed from these military combat arms earplugs.
More than 2.7 million current and veteran soldiers have experienced a hearing loss that is so devastating they are currently receiving disability benefits. The United States government is issuing disability benefits based on the extent of the veteran or service member’s injury, and not their financial need or income.
3M Has Not Settled Defective Combat Earplugs Cases
In the meantime, many people are out there saying that 3M has settled the case for $9 million. If that were the case, each person who suffered hearing damage would receive next to nothing for their claim.
You can go ahead and ignore that number. That settlement figure that is quoted relates to a related but different case.
3M was sued in a qui tam lawsuit which was taken up by the Justice Department. It relates to the combat earplugs, but it was more about the company ripping off the U.S. government and selling it something that failed to live up to expectations. 3M was alleged to have knowingly sold faulty combat arms earplugs to the U.S. government.
The government’s complaint was under the False Claims Act, and it was filed on behalf of taxpayers. It is not a class-action lawsuit that will compensate service members. The money from that settlement goes to the U.S. Treasury.
In 2018, the Justice Department settled their 3M lawsuit stating that the company defrauded the United States government when they sold earplugs for service members that had “dangerous design defects.” The military had used these earplugs “for more than a decade.”
All the current lawsuits remain alive in district court. The settlement with DOJ is not evidence alone that would allow veterans to win cases, but the same facts will be very helpful in court cases.
How Much Would a Hearing Loss Settlement Be Worth?
How much money the service member affected by the combat arms earplugs would receive depends on how the cases are resolved. When a defendant settles multidistrict litigation, they often receive less than they would than if the case went to trial.
This is the bargain that a plaintiff makes when settling class-action lawsuits. If the case were to be decided by a jury, you would likely receive more. However, defendants almost never fight mass torts when they lose the initial ones and are assessed with high damages.
What You Can Expect for Hearing Damage
Let us review how the damages part of any personal injury claim works, so you can get a brief explanation of what you may expect in your case. First, any compensation would pay you for both the economic costs and the non-economic costs of your injury.
Economic costs are the ones that come directly out of your pocket in one way or another. They could include the following:
- Your out of pocket physicians costs when you have seen a specialist to treat your injuries (after applicable insurance policies and insurance limits)
- The cost of any procedure for treatment
- The cost of any implants or equipment needed to improve soldiers hearing
- Lost wages if your hearing problems keep you from working or reduce your earning capacity
Other Compensation for Hearing Problems
On the other side of the ledger, you can also be paid for your experience and what you have gone through since your injury.
You could receive compensation for the following:
- Pain and suffering both in the past and future (given some symptoms, this could be considerable)
- Suffering diminished quality of life
- Emotional trauma and distress
How much you would recover depends on your own particular experience. Some people have suffered more severe hearing damage, and these are the ones who would receive more money.
To understand how your own specific situation may impact your possible compensation, call our law firm for a free consultation. We will give you a free case evaluation and let you know what we think of your potential compensation.
Hearing Loss Is Usually a Hidden Damage
In some cases, juries may minimize what they award for hearing loss damages. Hearing loss damage happens inside ear canals, and it is something that a jury cannot see. Many injuries that go in front of a jury are very tangible. However, the challenge for plaintiffs in combat arms earplug cases is in showing how they have been harmed.
Nonetheless, plaintiffs can still be compensated in an earplug lawsuit. We have seen numerous examples where hearing loss has resulted in a six-figure settlement or award. For example, an Alabama plaintiff who was repeatedly exposed to loud machinery noises in a mine received $150,000 in a settlement.
Other Hearing Loss Settlement Values
In a 2019 New York case, a plaintiff received a settlement of $300,000 when an emergency room physician committed medical malpractice in trying to remove a pebble that was lodged in his ear.
In this case, the plaintiff suffered total hearing loss in one ear. Another example of hearing loss damages was a 2018 case in Illinois in which a railroad worker received $300,000 when an engineer blew a locomotive horn close to where he was sitting, resulting in partial hearing loss from the loud noises.
Ordinarily, our estimates for a hearing loss case would range from a settlement between $100,000 to $500,000,
depending on whether you have suffered partial hearing impairment or severe hearing impairment. However, the presence of punitive damages may increase the value of your military combat arms earplugs case if it goes to trial.
Settlement Values Are Increasing After Plaintiff Wins
In May 2021, the first jury verdict was handed down in a combat arms earplugs case. 3M lost the first cases, and the result may cause even more people to come forward with hearing loss claims. Three plaintiffs were awarded $7.1 million for their hearing loss in the first 3M earplug lawsuit to go in front of a jury.
What is significant about this case is that most of the damages were not compensating the plaintiffs for medical costs. Instead, the bulk of the award was punitive damages. Each victim was awarded $2.1 million in punitive damages as the jury had a very negative reaction to the defendant’s conduct.
This verdict will likely increase the pressure on 3M to settle the cases. Given the number of claims, 3M could be looking at a very large legal bill if each of the cases goes to trial. You can expect that 3M will appeal the verdict or hope that a district court judge reduces the award. Otherwise, 3M will need to resolve allegations before they severely impact the bottom line.
What Happens Next in the 3M Earplug Case
There are still over 250,000 cases pending in the multi-district litigation that the judicial panel has assigned to the Northern District of Florida. One can expect that the next cases will be going to trial soon.
Multi-District Litigation (MDL) is not the same as class-action lawsuits that group plaintiffs together to receive their portion of one verdict. Instead, multidistrict litigation typically starts with one or more bellwether trials in a state or federal court to help plaintiffs and defendants better understand how their case will resolve should their loss to go to trial.
3M is expected to appeal the combat arms earplug litigation verdict because it spells much trouble for the company. The federal judge assigned to the case would also review the jury verdict. At the same time, 3M will probably also begin looking at a combat arms earplugs global settlement.
Will 3M Settle the Cases?
3M has tried unsuccessfully to use the government contractor defense in its initial cases in a Florida federal court. In recent months, 3M has stated that they will assert the “combat and activities defense” and the “Federal government contractor defense” to stop civil cases being filed against the company under the Feres preemptive doctrine.
According to the Feres preemptive doctrine, the United States federal government enforces its sovereign immunity from liability involving any injury to military servicemen and women arising from their military service.
Additionally, under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the government has exemptions establishing statutory immunities for any combatant activity or discretionary act that applies to the federal government, but not contractors, like 3M. However, the United States Congress has never created laws that shield government contractors from monetary liability.
The 3M earplug jury that heard the initial cases seemed to be angered that the predecessor company was paid money for a product to protect soldiers that it allegedly knew was defective all along.
The reaction of the first jury is bad news for 3M. While the company is not guaranteed to lose all of the remaining cases, the fact that the jury saw fit to assess punitive damages should scare 3M management. They may want to talk settlement now.
Call an Attorney for a 3M Earplug Lawsuit
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers our hearing injury attorneys will review your claim and let you know how much your earplug lawsuit may be worth based on your losses and available disability benefits. We are one of the leading law firms that help injured clients recover when their damage was caused by defective products.
Are you concerned that hiring an attorney can be highly expensive, requiring a retainer or upfront money? Our contingency fee lawyers pay all upfront costs and do not get paid for their services until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury trial verdict.
Sharing any confidential or sensitive information with our law firm remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. Let us discuss your injuries caused by wearing military earplugs to ensure that your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.