Is It Too Late to Join The 3M Lawsuit? Ask The Lawyers
The filing deadline for the 3M lawsuit is not yet determined, so you can confirm with a lawyer about when it will be too late to join. On September 29, 2021, the question of whether the statute of limitations has passed was given some clarity. According to the multidistrict litigation (MDL) trial judge, the jury will decide on the statute of limitations.
If you feel you have a defective 3M earplugs case, you should get in touch with a mass tort lawsuit attorney act as soon as possible. They can clarify your case’s timeline and if your state’s statute of limitations deadline for product liability cases applies. But as with most legal matters, the answer has more to it than a simple “yes” or “no.” This article will dive into several aspects of the 3M lawsuit.
Is the 3M Earplug Lawsuit Worth It?
3M Company issued over 2.2 million Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs to members of the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015. More than 275,000 lawsuits have been filed (with more plaintiffs joining the fray), alleging hearing loss and tinnitus because of flaws in 3M’s earplug design. A definitive payout is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy, but educated guesses can be made as to possible compensation that may be awarded.
First, it’s important to note that the circumstances of each of the thousands of cases vary greatly. The specifics of each case mean the potential payouts, if any, have a wide range of compensation.
If what’s called a “global” payout occurs, damages will be awarded on a tier system. The damage you as a plaintiff suffered, along with the circumstances surrounding your injury, will determine your level of compensation. Since 3M has not as of yet opened discussions on the possibility settlements, these tiers have yet to be established. However, we can make reasonable estimates based on similar mass tort cases in recent years.
In 2020, a settlement was reached in the Roundup case. In this case, plaintiffs alleged the weedkiller Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, resulting in Bayer, Roundup’s maker, to approve paying roughly $10 billion that will be allocated to global payouts.
No payouts have been distributed yet. But according to The New York Times, plaintiffs may expect their individual settlements to be anywhere between $5,000 and $250,000. Each payout will likely be determined based on the circumstances of their individual case.
Johnson & Johnson
Currently, Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of lawsuits alleging its baby powder causes cancer. Some of the individual cases thus far have resulted in multimillion-dollar compensation.
The damages alleged in the 3M lawsuits are significantly less than the pain and suffering caused by cancer. There are also significantly more lawsuits in the 3M earplugs case. As a result, most of the 3M lawsuits are not likely to result in compensation at the level of the Johnson & Johnson cases. However, it does show how critically judges and juries are looking at product liability cases.
Has Anyone Gotten a Settlement from 3M?
There have been noteworthy verdicts in individual cases against 3M in recent days. A few significant verdicts so far:
$110 Million Verdict in the Sloan and Wayman Case
In January 2022, a jury awarded $110 million to U.S. Army veterans Ronald Sloan and William Wayman for their tinnitus and hearing loss after using 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs. A report from The New York Times says each plaintiff was awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages.
$22.5 Million Verdict in the Finley Case
Thomas Finley served in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2014. In both training situations and combat, he was exposed to mechanized vehicles, weapons fire, helicopters, and generators. He wore 3M’s earplugs, believing they would protect his hearing. However, he eventually developed hearing loss and tinnitus. The case alleged that 3M knew the earplugs were defective but sold them to the military.
In December 2021, a Pensacola, Florida, jury awarded Finley $22.5 million. The verdict is broken down as follows:
- $7.5 million compensatory damage: Loss of enjoyment in life, and pain and suffering
- $15 million punitive damages: Punishment for 3M’s wrongdoing, per the jury’s determination
$13 Million Verdict in the Camarillorazo Case
Guillermo Camarillorazo is an active Army sergeant who used 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2). His case had strong medical evidence to support his arguments.
The jury’s $13,062,320 verdict is broken down as follows:
- $816,395 compensatory damages: Loss of enjoyment in life, pain, suffering
- $12,245,925 punitive damages: Punishment for 3M’s wrongdoing, per the jury’s determination
How Much Are Veterans Receiving from the 3M Lawsuit?
April 30, 2021, marked the day of the first plaintiff verdict in lawsuits against 3M for its defective earplugs. In Florida, the jury awarded $7.1 million to three veteran Army servicemembers. They each split the compensation among them.
This verdict, in addition to the other verdicts mentioned above, shows that some juries are motivated to punish 3M for its alleged wrongdoing. However, not every trial has resulted in a win for the plaintiff. Several juries have found in favor of the defense.
Past results do not guarantee a victory in future cases. Each case has its unique circumstances. The probability of an award to the plaintiff depends on how well the plaintiff’s attorneys can prove the facts in their version of the case.
Additional VA compensation
Veterans may also file a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is also offering funds for disability compensation. Currently, the VA views a hearing loss of 30% as grounds for compensation. Qualified veterans will receive $467.39 each month, as of the 2022 veterans disability compensation rates.
What Is the Average Settlement for a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?
According to The New York Times’ report, which was mentioned above, in the 10 cases against 3M, plaintiffs have won five cases while 3M has also won five cases. The average settlement payout for a 3M earplug lawsuit can change, but according to the Times’ 2022 report, nine of the 14 plaintiffs were awarded between $1.7 million and $22.5 million. Bear in mind, each case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.
Not all cases end in a plaintiff victory. For instance, in the case of Carlos Montero, the jury favored the defense. Jury members felt that Montero did not prove his hearing loss was due to defects in 3M earplugs.
How to Qualify for a 3M lawsuit?
If you served in the military, you may qualify to take legal action against 3M if you meet the following criteria:
- Between 2003 and 2015, you served in a U.S. military branch
- You were in active combat situations
- You used 3M’s dual-sided, black and yellow Combat Arms earplugs provided by the military
- Honorably discharged or still active in the military
- You now have hearing loss, tinnitus, or other similar symptoms
Preparing for a 3M Earplugs Lawsuit
To prepare for a lawsuit, you will need to show a medical evaluation from a doctor at the time of your discharge from the U.S. military. If you are still active in your branch of the military, you will still need to consult with a doctor.
The medical examination at or near your time of discharge needs to show a diagnosis of hearing loss or tinnitus. The hearing loss would need to have an impairment rating as defined by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. A trial attorney can review your case to determine if you have a claim against 3M.
When Will the 3M Lawsuit Be Settled?
No end date for settlement is guaranteed, but we can look at past trials and cases to make educated guesses about the 3M situation. We can also look at what is happening now with the individual trials that have already been decided. The individual trials are known as “bellwether trials.” These trials are 3M’s way of gauging how future lawsuits may or may not stand up to trials. These trials also indicate how future settlements may proceed.
Depending on the outcome of these individual trials, 3M may or may not decide to offer settlements faster. When companies see verdicts in single-trial cases going against them in court, they sometimes decide to settle the remaining lawsuits en masse. These settlements are known as “global settlements.”
How Global Settlements Work
Mass tort cases (where hundreds or thousands of cases are filed against a single company) can often take years to settle. In these cases, lawyers may decide to take the global settlement offer instead of taking an individual case to trial.
Based on past product liability cases, many legal experts estimate global settlements in one to two years. If most of the individual trials continue to result in plaintiff victories, 3M may decide to settle sooner than later. There are no guarantees this situation will follow a similar timeline, however. Part of the deciding factor in settling involves negotiation between the plaintiff and defense teams involved in the trial.
For example, Bayer decided to settle its Roundup cases. This decision came only after several individual cases had been tried over several years. These individual cases resulted in several multimillion-dollar decisions against the company. Complicating matters further for Bayer, many individual lawsuits have not agreed to settle. This means Bayer must go to trial for each of these cases.
3M Lawsuit History
Understanding some of the background of 3M’s earplugs situation can help bring some context to what’s happening today. It starts with Aearo Technologies, which developed a special two-way earplug. If users inserted the plugs in one way, the design was intended to block noises from weapons fire and other artillery noises. When the plugs were inserted with the opposite end, extremely loud noises were reduced, but hearing speech was possible.
In 2003, the company entered into a contract with the U.S. military to provide the earplugs. Known as “Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2),” the U.S. Army was the branch that used most of the provided earplugs. In 2008, 3M Company bought Aearo Technologies. Throughout 2015, 3M continued to sell these earplugs by hundreds of thousands to the Department of Defense. The plugs were used in training exercises and by active personnel in combat areas around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
Company Filed Lawsuit Over Defective Earplugs in 2016
Manufacturer Moldex-Metric makes a similar ear protection product. In 2016, it filed a lawsuit alleging that the Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, was defective. This led to a June 2018 settlement. 3M Company paid $9.1 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to settle a False Claims lawsuit brought by a whistleblower claiming the company knew it was selling a faulty product.
After the settlement, 3M claimed the company only settled the whistleblower’s lawsuit to avoid a lengthy public trial. The company further maintained it had satisfied all its contractual specification obligations. Many individuals have now filed lawsuits against 3M, claiming hearing loss, ringing in their ears (tinnitus), and reduced quality of life. As noted earlier, some of these cases have gone to trial, and some plaintiffs have been awarded large awards while other cases were decided in 3M’s favor.
How Contingency Attorney’s Fees Work
If you fit the criteria for filing a lawsuit against 3M based on hearing loss stemming from the use of the Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, you may hire a mass tort lawyer to represent you. Many lawyers take product liability cases such as 3M’s on a contingency basis.
A lawyer can represent you and fight your case on contingency. Under this payment agreement, an attorney is paid a percentage based on the amount of a favorable settlement agreement or court verdict for their client. If the jury finds in favor of the defense, both you and the attorney receive no compensation.
The exact percentage amount may vary from law firm to law firm and must be clearly spelled out in any contract you are asked to sign.
You Can Consult a 3M Lawsuit Attorney
Filing a lawsuit against a company as large as 3M can be very lengthy and intimidating. Such companies understand the intricate details of the law better than a layperson. Even filing paperwork for the above-mentioned VA claim is very complicated.
A law firm can also explain how “punitive awards,” “class action suits,” and other matters in product liability cases work. A personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal waters of these and other issues in your case. They also can represent you in all legal proceedings and manage your case from start to finish.
A law firm can make this process easier in several ways:
- Investigate your case thoroughly
- Talk to doctors and other medical personnel about the specifics of your case
- Complete essential legal paperwork on your behalf
Reach Out to Us Today to Find Out if You Can Join the 3M Lawsuit
We can help you determine if you can pursue legal action against 3M for its defective earplugs and determine the likelihood of compensation you may be able to receive. Remember, every potential lawsuit has a limited window to act. You can start today to avoid joining the 3M lawsuit too late and being denied your rightful compensation. Fill out the contact form for more information and to get help with your case.