3M Facing Wave of Lawsuits for Defective Military Ear Plugs
TEXAS – According to an online news report from wacotrib.com, 3M is facing a wave of lawsuits alleging that its military ear plugs are defective. Many of these lawsuits have been filed in Texas, and attorneys are trying to gain approval for a consolidation of all of the lawsuits into one court in Texas.*
From 2003 to 2012, Aearo Technologies (subsequently 3M) had an exclusive sales contract with the U.S. military for specialized ear wear known as dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs. The ear plugs are purportedly designed to prevent ear injuries in military members by protecting their ears from the dangerously loud sounds of combat. Lawsuits that have been initiated by veterans allege that the plugs are faulty and did not appropriately protect veterans’ ears. Many veterans are claiming that they are suffering from tinnitus or hearing loss as a result of their use of 3M earplugs.
Attorneys representing the veterans, whose lawsuits have been filed around the country, are seeking approval for a consolidation of the cases in Texas. This consolidation is known as a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Attorneys for the plaintiffs want the 3M ear plug MDL to be in Texas, where many of the veterans live and where many lawsuits have been filed.
The lawsuits expand on information that came to light when 3M agreed to settle a lawsuit with the United States government over the ear plugs. The company agreed to a settlement of more than $9 million over claims that it knew the ear plugs were too short, and therefore defective. As part of the settlement, 3M did not admit fault.
Whether the MDL will be formed remains to be seen. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits filed so far claim that they have suffered ear injuries because of the ear plugs, including hearing loss and tinnitus.
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