American conglomerate 3M, known for manufacturing safety and other equipment for various industries, is facing multi-district litigation (MDL) in Florida over the sale of faulty dual-ended combat arms earplugs for soldiers. This MDL has become the largest in American history and it shows no signs of slowing down as the latest bellwether trial found that combat earplugs sold by 3M caused hearing loss and tinnitus, recently awarding a former U.S. soldier a record $8.2 million.
In 2008, 3M bought Aero Technologies, a company that was given a government contract in 2003 to develop dual-ended ear plugs that could offer soldiers either total or partial protection from loud noises.. After 3M developed the earplug, initial testing showed that the end of the earplug meant for total protection was achieving a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that suggested that that end of the earplug was not blocking all noise as intended. Due to the earplugs’ alleged design defects, 3M purportedly knew that the NRR was inaccurate, overstating noise protection and yet continued to market the earplugs to the military for more than a decade without disclosing the design defect in the earplugs.
No Stone Left Unturned
Just over a year later since the lawsuits started to pile up for 3M, the litigation has now become the largest mass tort in American history, even surpassing the decades-long asbestos mass tort that previously held the number one spot. After creating an MDL to try to resolve the almost 260,000 cases before 3M, a northern Florida judge scheduled various bellwether trials to allow both sides to test their arguments and determine the range of damages and potential settlement options. Thus far, after 4 bellwether trials, 3M has been ordered to pay a cumulative amount of $17 million and has lost most of the cases thus far.
The fourth bellwether trial found 3M liable for US Army veteran Brandon Adkin’s tinnitus and hearing loss. As a result, a federal jury ordered 3M to pay Adkin’s $8.2 million for the damages caused by the faulty earplugs he wore during service. With this bellwether trial being the most expensive for 3M so far and with 6 more trials scheduled already, 3M potentially may be inclined to reach a global settlement sooner than expected.
In August of this year, 3M’s defense was already struggling to find its footing in the courtroom after a U.S. district judge found that 3M could not rely on the statute of limitations to bar a previous plaintiff, due to 3M’s alleged concealment of the earplug’s defects.
Now Is the Time to Act
If you suffer from hearing loss and/or tinnitus and served in the United States military or in the reserves between 2003 and 2015 or were a Department of Defense contractor during the same period, and used the dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our team at Oppenheim Law recognizes the emotional burden these impairments can have on individuals and their lives. That is why our firm provides a team of professionals committed to zealously represent our clients.
Please feel free to call us at (954) 384-6114, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with us at www.oppenheimlaw.com so we can inform you of your legal rights so you can obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
From the Trenches,