What is the current status of the 3m earplug lawsuit?

Thousands of military service participants and veterans have filed a court case against 3M, declaring the 3M company earplugs were defective and resulted in listening to damages from loud audio in the combat/battle zone or during army training exercises. To date, most 3M earplug suitcases have yet to be settled. Of the 16 “bellwether” (test) cases most likely to be tried over the last three years, the judgments have been split between the complainants and the accused– 10 for complainants and 6 for protection.

While the complainants have prevailed in many cases, the defense has succeeded enough to leave both sides reasonably confident of their placements and no closer to settlement arrangements.

The federal area judge commanding the 3M Fight Arms Earplug item responsibility multidistrict litigation (MDL) has bought the events to start mediation to promote negotiation and avoid overwhelming the government judicial system with the hundreds of 3M earplug lawsuits currently pending.

The History of the 3M Earplug Lawsuit

Combat Arms earplugs were produced and provided to the US military between 2003 and 2015 by Aearo Technologies Inc. and its parent company, 3M Company, to shield the service members’ ears from the loud noises associated with military training and fighting. These were standard equipment for soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during those years. Without a recall, the earplugs’ production stopped in 2015.  

Moldex-Metric, Inc., with headquarters in California, filed a whistleblower case against 3M in 2016, alleging that 3M had been selling faulty earplugs while aware that they did not fulfill the government’s safety standards for protection.

Thousands of soldiers were said to have suffered from severe hearing loss and tinnitus, or ringing or other noise in the ears, as a result of the allegedly defective earplugs, according to the lawsuit. To resolve the accusations without accepting responsibility, 3M paid the Department of Justice $9.1 million in 2018.

Several military personnel started suing 3M after the federal government and company settled with the defective earplugs, stating that doing so had left them with hearing loss or tinnitus. Currently, 3M is also sued by more than 230,000 active-duty or retired military personnel.

The Current Problem with 3M Combat Arms Earplugs

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Certain military personnel has linked the dual-ended Combat Armament Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEV2) by 3M, to hearing loss and tinnitus. A condition known as tinnitus, which is a sign of hearing loss, is characterized by ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ears or brain.

The earplugs aimed to protect the wearer’s hearing while enabling them to hear crucial sounds like directives and discussions. Later, it was determined that the earplugs were defective and insufficient for blocking loud noises. As a result, some military personnel were more vulnerable to hearing loss, especially around loud noises like gunshots, explosions, or aircraft noise.

Hearing loss and tinnitus may significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Communication difficulties, work-related issues, and social isolation are all consequences of hearing loss. In addition to disrupting sleep and concentration, tinnitus be a constant source of irritation or discomfort.

3M Earplug Defense during Court Proceeding

According to 3M, the CAEv2 earplugs are not intentionally faulty and only fail when incorrectly used. 3M defends the security and efficiency of its CAEv2 earplugs on its website, calling them “a significant improvement in hearing protection.”

To create the CAEv2 earplugs, 3M claims it worked in “tight coordination” with the American military and incorporated features that were “requested and accepted” by those speaking on behalf of the military.

Due to the military’s involvement in the earplug design, 3M has unsuccessfully attempted to utilize the government-contractor defense to escape liability, even if the earplugs are found to be defective.

The government-contractor defense came from a decision before the U.S. Supreme Court in which government indemnity was granted to a manufacturer of military equipment made under a government contract but later found defective. The court determined that producing military equipment involves a federal issue exclusive to the federal government and severe enough to supersede state tort laws. To establish the government-contractor defense, three things must be present:


  • The American government approved relatively exact specifications.
  • The item met the accepted requirements.


  • The manufacturer informed the government of any potential risks associated with using the product.


Because there was never a documented contract between the government and Aearo regarding the design or manufacture of the earplugs, the MDL court rejected 3M’s government-contractor defense in all of the bellwether trials, proving that 3M is not a government-contractor in this case. In the cases it has appealed, 3M has brought up the subject again.

How to Find a Lawyer to File a 3M Earplug Lawsuit

Finding a lawyer to help you with your case is the first step if you want to file a lawsuit when you feel 3M earplugs have caused you damage. To contact a lawyer for your 3M earplug lawsuit, follow these steps:

  1. Research to Find Lawyers: You do this by searching online or requesting suggestions from friends and relatives.
  2. Verify Credentials: Verify if the lawyer’s qualifications and track record of success includes liability experience.
  3. Search for Free Consultations: Seek out lawyers who will meet with you for a free consultation so you explain your situation and determine whether they are a suitable fit for you.
  4. Inquire about Fees: Inquire about the lawyer’s fees and whether they are conditional, meaning they are only paid if you prevail in your legal matter.
  5. Review Testimonials: Read client testimonials to learn about their interactions with the lawyer.
  6. Choose the Best Lawyer: Pick a legal representative who you are at ease with and confident will manage your case.

Hiring a lawyer with knowledge and experience in this field is crucial because starting a case will be difficult and time-consuming.

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