April 22, 2019 — Litigation to hold 3M responsible for their defective earplugs has been asserted throughout the country. The cases allege that 3M misrepresented how effective their earplugs are both before and after they obtained their military contract with the government.
In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice settled with 3M for $9.1 million. That settlement essentially stated that the manufacturer knowingly sold defective earplugs. Such actions constituted fraud. They provided inaccurate noise reduction ratings, the design caused the earplugs to loosen, rendering them inadequate for hearing protection. Furthermore, the earplugs were not described accurately on packaging and instructions.
Consequently, thousands of soldiers are filing their own lawsuits. As of March 2019, there are over 200 lawsuits in both federal and state court throughout the country. As of April 3, a federal judicial panel has sent over 640 suits to Florida to all be heard in the same venue.
The New “Centralized” Location
Moving all of the suits to one location will allow a more effective and swift administration of these cases. Litigation like this is often referred to as “Multi-District Litigation” or MDL. It takes a significant amount of judicial resources and experience to coordinate all of these cases. The judge to whom this case has been assigned, Judge M. Casey Rogers, has been successful in organizing similar cases in the past.
3M Combat Earplug History
3M Combat Arms earplugs were commonly used by the military between 2003 and 2015. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of soldiers have been harmed by their defective design. These earplugs were supposed to protect American servicemembers from the noise associated with combat and other elevated noise situations. Because of the design flaws, the earplugs have caused hearing loss, tinnitus, loss of balance and other related problems that soldiers will have to contend with for years to come.