3M Earplugs Lawsuit: Caused Hearing Loss
(United Latest News)- After facing legal claims that their earplugs led to hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing-related injuries among consumers and military personnel, 3M Earplugs Lawsuit has agreed to a historic settlement of more than $6 billion. This agreement considered a significant triumph for veterans, follows a class-action lawsuit in which plaintiffs asserted that 3M’s earplugs were defective and posed risks to their hearing.
The legal representatives of the plaintiffs, Bryan F. Aylstock from Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC, Christopher A. Seeger from Seeger Weiss LLP, and Clayton Clark from Clark, Love & Hutson, PLLC, stated in an official statement that they are pleased with the outcome, which ensures that those affected by hearing damage will receive the compensation they deserve.
3M will disburse this settlement amount over the years 2023 to 2029, with $5 billion in cash and an additional $1 billion in the form of 3M common stock. The company, in a statement on its website, clarified that this settlement does not indicate an admission of liability and maintained the safety and effectiveness of their earplugs when used correctly.
The Allegations, Injuries, and Questionable Testing
The plaintiffs claimed that the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, CAEv.2, manufactured by Aearo LLC between 2003 and 2015 (later acquired by 3M in 2007), were prone to loosening, thereby exposing users to harmful levels of noise. The earplugs were used across various contexts, including civilian industrial professions, hunting, firearms practice, military service, and noise-exposed domestic or international environments.
Numerous individuals suffered from hearing loss, tinnitus, and similar injuries due to these alleged defects. The complaint further alleged that the earplugs did not adhere to proper testing and rating guidelines as outlined by the American National Standards Institute. Defendants were accused of manipulating Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) labels through inappropriate testing practices that distorted the actual effectiveness of the earplugs. For instance, despite actual test results indicating an NRR rating of 10.9 for eight subjects, the earplugs were reportedly labeled with an NRR of 22.
3M’s Subsidiary and Prior Legal Issues
3M’s subsidiary, Aearo, attempted to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but a judge dismissed the petition in June, asserting the company’s financial stability. This case echoes prior legal troubles faced by 3M. In 2018, the Department of Justice disclosed that 3M had agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle allegations that it knowingly sold these problematic earplugs to the U.S. military without disclosing the defects. The Department of Justice emphasized that those who compromise the well-being of the military for personal gain would face appropriate consequences.