Has Anyone Received Money from a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?

3M Earplug

Some United States veterans have been awarded millions in compensation from 3M Company (3M) in the 3M earplug lawsuit. Other cases have ruled in favor of 3M. 

The courts have heard several bellwether cases. More than half of the plaintiffs have received compensation from 3M. In January 2022, a federal jury awarded $110 million to two U.S. Army veterans who sued 3M over hearing damage related to defective 3M earplugs, as The New York Times reports.

Is the 3M Earplug Lawsuit Worth It?

The 3M earplug lawsuit centers on how the company, 3M, allegedly sold defective earplugs to the United States military for more than 10 years. Veterans who served in the United States military are now filing lawsuits against 3M for hearing loss and tinnitus. The 3M earplug lawsuits are now consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). This means that each case might reach a different ruling, but thousands of U.S. veterans are filing similar claims. 

#1. Should I Pursue a Claim Against 3M?

Your situation is unique. Having a mass tort lawsuit lawyer review your case can be helpful. A lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid case against 3M. Did you serve the United States military when soldiers used the 3M earplugs? Have medical professionals confirmed your hearing loss? Hearing loss can immensely impact your life. It might be worth filing a claim.

#2. What Causes Hearing Loss and Tinnitus?

People can experience hearing loss or develop tinnitus because of exposure to loud noises. Tinnitus or ringing ears can be a symptom of damage to the ears. Tinnitus includes a variety of sounds, not just ringing. People with tinnitus can experience buzzing, clicking, or roaring sounds. They can experience it intermittently or constantly, and it can get worse. 

Military members are constantly exposed to loud sounds, such as explosions and gunfire. They cannot remove themselves from these environments, so they must rely on having adequate hearing protection. They are at a high risk of developing hearing loss.

#3. Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Symptoms of hearing loss include:

  • Difficulty hearing certain words or consonants
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
  • Feeling that speech is muffled or garbled 
  • Needing to turn sounds like the TV or radio up.

Symptoms will vary and can gradually worsen over time. It all depends on the severity and nature of the hearing loss.

#4. Diagnosis and Treatment of Hearing Loss

General screenings for hearing loss can reveal potential declines in hearing. If a doctor suspects you have hearing loss, you might meet with a specialist called an audiologist. The audiologist will conduct tests to measure the severity of hearing loss and what level of sounds you can hear.

Often, medical treatment cannot reverse hearing loss. However, there are options available to help improve symptoms. For example, a person with hearing loss might benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants. Because of the potentially permanent damage, hearing loss prevention is critical. Prevention is an effective strategy for reducing hearing loss.

#5. The Damage of Hearing Loss

The impact of hearing loss in veterans’ lives can be devastating. Hearing loss can significantly interfere with someone’s day-to-day life, and tinnitus can interfere with someone’s ability to focus and communicate with other people. In 2020, more than 1 million U.S. veterans received disability compensation for hearing loss, and more than 2 million got disability compensation for tinnitus, according to a U.S. Veterans Benefits Administration compensation report.

Hearing loss makes it harder for people to communicate. It may cause people to withdraw from social situations and become more isolated. It can significantly impact the quality of life and even contributes to people’s risk for depression. This irreparable damage of hearing loss has been particularly discouraging for many veterans who served in the United States military with noble intentions. 

#6. The Role of Earplugs in Military Combat

Soldiers in active military combat are frequently exposed to loud sounds from gunfire and explosives. Many soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have also experienced hearing loss. 

Ideally, using protective equipment like earplugs reduces the damage caused by loud sounds. Earplugs should help reduce the risk of hearing loss, but the earplugs need to be made and used in a specific way. Ineffective earplugs or not using earplugs correctly can lead to hearing loss. 

#7. 3M’s Responsibility 

The company, 3M, is based in St. Paul, Minnesota. It supplied combat arms earplugs (CAEv2) to the United States military between 2003 and 2015. In 2018, the company settled with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for $9.1 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company knowingly sold it defective earplugs. The settlement did not determine the company’s liability, The New York Times reports.

Military personnel who used the earplugs claim the earplugs were too short and did not offer the protection soldiers needed based on their environments. They further claim the earplugs did not seal properly around the wearer’s ears. The United States military claimed that the company failed to warn them that the earplugs were ineffective and would not provide adequate protection.

Thousands of military members have experienced hearing loss and tinnitus and have filed claims against 3M. However, 3M has denied the claims and has not taken any responsibility for them. The company further claims it informed the United States military that soldiers had to fit the earplugs in a specific way for the earplugs to be effective. 

How Long Will the 3M Earplug Lawsuit Take?

Legal proceedings take time. The first case went to trial in April 2021, and it took five weeks for the courts to go over the case. The cases the courts have heard so far will indicate what future cases will likely be dropped and which suits will rule in favor of veterans.

It takes time to gather evidence for each case, such as testimonies from expert witnesses and medical documents proving hearing loss. It also takes time for a jury to hear each case. 

You can consult with a mass tort attorney specializing in cases like yours to help you through the process. The 3M case decided in January 2022 is the first of six that the courts are scheduled to hear for that year. What happens in these bellwether cases will indicate what will happen moving forward and whether 3M will take more cases to trial or choose to settle.

Multidistrict Litigation

The 3M lawsuit is in multidistrict litigation and known as MDL No. 2885 (per the United States District Court, Northern District of Florida). This means the cases are consolidated based on their similar features. Most veterans are filing claims for the same thing: hearing loss or tinnitus caused by defective earplugs from 3M.

But the outcomes of each case are decided individually. The consolidation of cases allows for easier sharing of information. It enables any statements from 3M to be consistent and for veterans’ lawyers to share evidence. 

Will 3M Settle the Earplug Lawsuit?

Assuming there are no appeals, 3M will be paying the settlements to the cases the courts have already decided. We will need to see how the subsequent cases go moving forward. If most of the cases are in the United States veterans’ favor, 3M might decide to settle with plaintiffs before the cases go to trial. Settling before trial might be more straightforward for all the parties involved in the long run. 

How Much Money Are People Getting from the 3M Earplug Lawsuit?

The highest settlement for a 3M lawsuit was $110 million, as of January 2022, but it is likely that not every future payment will be this high. Defendants are aiming to get compensation to help treat hearing loss and related damages from hearing loss and tinnitus. Each case is different, and whether you receive compensation will depend on your case’s specifics.

U.S. Veterans Who Have Received Payouts:

Of the cases that have been heard so far, veterans have received the following settlements:

  • $1.1 million
  • $8.2 million
  • Just over $13 million
  • $22.5 million
  • $110 million

The first bellwether case the courts heard involved three veterans. The courts ruled in favor of these veterans against 3M. Each veteran received over $2 million. The collective settlement for the case was $7.1 million.

3M Earplugs Lawsuit Update

So far, there have been 11 bellwether cases brought to trial against 3M. Of these cases, five have ruled in favor of 3M, and six have ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

A Brief 3M Lawsuit Timeline

Most of the cases that have been decided at this point were heard in 2021, while one has been heard in 2022, as of this writing. The court decided the first case in April 2021, and the most recently decided case occurred in January 2022.

  • Case 1: The courtruled in favor of the plaintiffs, three veterans who all served in the United States military.
  • Case 2: The court ruled in favor of 3M. 
  • Case 3: The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. 
  • Case 4: The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Case 5: The court ruled in favor of 3M. 
  • Case 6: The court ruled in favor of 3M.
  • Case 7: The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Case 8: The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Case 9: The court ruled in favor of 3M.
  • Case 10: The court ruled in favor of 3M.
  • Case 11: The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

3M Earplug Lawsuit Payout

So far, the payouts from 3M lawsuits have varied. But some veterans and the United States military have gotten payouts from 3M.

Payout to the United States Government

As noted earlier, in 2018, 3M paid the United States military $9.1 million to settle a defective earplugs lawsuit. The United States military said the company knowingly sold it defective earplugs. The settlement made it clear that the United States military takes its soldiers’ safety seriously. However, 3M did not pay this money to the U.S. veterans who suffered hearing loss. Also, 3M did not acknowledge that the claims made against the company were valid. 

At one point, 3M tried to claim that it was the United States military’s fault, but the judge denied 3M any immunity. U.S. veterans still have the option to take legal action against the company.

The Payout to Military Veterans

Of the cases the courts have tried so far, different veterans have received payouts. In the cases that have ruled in favor of military veterans to date, the highest payout has been $110 million. The lowest payout has been $1.1 million. 

The courts decide each case individually, so it is unclear how high the future payment settlements will be. But these cases give us an idea that juries have found the veterans’ claims against 3M to be valid. 

You Can Get Legal Help with a 3M Defective Earplug Case

Did you serve in the United States military between 2003 and 2015? Have you experienced hearing loss or tinnitus? Suppose the use of defective earplugs caused your hearing loss during your time of military service. In that case, you may be able to receive compensation. 

You can learn more about your legal options during a free consultation. Fill out the form for more information and to get help with your case.