3M Combat Earplugs Litigation
We are still accepting cases.
What Was The Earplug Defect?
The plaintiffs allege that Aearo Technologies designed and manufactured the earplugs to provide two options for sound reduction: the olive-colored end is supposed to block all sound like a traditional earplug; the yellow end is supposed to greatly reduce loud noises, but still allow the wearer to hear spoken orders or approaching enemy combatants. In a whistleblower lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ claimed the earplugs can loosen in the wearer’s ear, because the stem is too short and loosens the seal.
Our soldiers thought they were protected from dangerous levels of noise, but they were actually at risk for hearing loss and tinnitus. The earplugs were originally manufactured by Aearo Technologies, which was acquired by 3M in 2008. This design defect was known to 3M but was not disclosed to the Department of Defense. 3M may have manipulated test results to make it appear the earplugs met government standards.
In July of 2018, the United States Department of Justice announced that 3M had agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that they knowingly sold the Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 to the U.S. military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device.
Who Used Combat Arms Earplugs?
3M supplied several military bases across the country. The company’s South Carolina plant supplied earplugs to several local bases that trained soldiers for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These bases included: Shaw Air Force Base, the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot at Parris Island, the Naval Weapons Station Charleston and Fort Jackson. Aearo won an exclusive contract bid to supply the military with its dual-sided earplugs from 2003 to 2012.
After 3M bought Aearo in 2008, it took over the contract and continued to supply ear protection to thousands of soldiers in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. Moldex began selling its BattlePlugs in 2012 after winning the military contract from 3M, but 3M continued to produce its dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs until 2015.
What is the Claims Process?
- Sign our Contract and Authorization for Medical Records. Once received, we begin working on your case to prove your the dangerous product caused your specific injuries and damages.
- Retrieve Documents and Case Assessment. We identify the liability of the product manufacturer(s) and damages of your claim, summarize past and future injuries and measure the impact on your life.
- Establish Liability. Collectively, teams of lawyers uncover the responsibility of the defendants in corporate documents, medical research, scientific experiments, electronic data, financial filings and clinical studies. Our experts review your medical records and medical summaries and are prepared to testify on behalf of your case.
- Document Damages. With a valid claim, damages may include lost wages, medical costs, physical disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and enjoyment of life.
- File Claims. Each case is evaluated individually based on the injuries that can be proved were caused by the defendant’s dangerous product (s). Medical records and sufficient proof of the product usage are key to support the claims.
- Mediation and Negotiation of Terms. All cases are prepared for trial and may be mediated, negotiated and settled, only if our client agrees to the terms.
- Settlement or Trial. As tenacious advocates, we diligently work to resolve your claim, and, if not settled, we may move forward to win your case at trial. With decades of success in settlements and trials, we are confident of winning our case before a jury.
Testimonials: What Our Clients Say About Us
It is our great honor and privilege to represent so many people deserving of our help and assistance. A few of the testimonials from our clients are shared for your review.
“Carolyn, I want to thank you for taking the time to discuss my medical problems with me. I have found that it has been very hard and embarrassing to talk about the problems I’m having even with my loved ones which has left me alone and depressed. You have been a Godsend for me in so many ways. The legal aspect is just one way, but you have brought back a humanizing aspect to my life that has been lost since this nightmare began. For the first time since my surgery, I can talk to someone who understands exactly what I am going through. finally feel hopeful instead of hopeless and may finally be on the correct path.” P.H. in N.C.
“Thank you so much for graciously representing me. Your kindness and respect for clients goes above the bar. I will highly recommend you to anyone. Thank you, again sweet lady and GOD bless. I bought a cute brick home with my money and still have plenty for new furniture and paying bills and a honeymoon we never got to take. I’m so excited, got so many plans. I guess dreams really do come true. Thank you again, sweet lady for all your hard work.” A.C. in Arkansas
“I wanted to thank you for listening to me on the chatline when no one else in this area would. I recently received my settlement and wanted you to know that I appreciate your efforts on my behalf. You had said we were not going to let them get away with it! Just a thank you. “T.H. in Texas
“Thank you for all the hard work you did to obtain my settlement in my case. You are amazing and did a wonderful job. The settlement amount is more than expected and I could not have gotten it without you. Again, thank you as so much, all is greatly appreciated.” S.E. in Tennessee
“We just wanted to say thank you for being by our side during all of this! It was such a blessing to meet you in court that day!! Anyone that needs an amazing caring attorney that has you’re best at heart, this is your lady!!” T.G. in Arkansas
““I wish to thank you for all the hard work and lawyering that you put into this case. The successful resolution of this matter simply could not have not been possible without the time you spent meticulously reviewing and organizing documents, records, emails and everything else. Our success is the direct result of your outstanding work product.” K.G. in Texas
“I want to thank you and your staff for all the help in getting the case settled and getting an award. Y’all are wonderful. I received my check in the mail yesterday.” M.H. in Louisiana
“We thank you for so much for everything you are doing for us. We thank God for putting you in our lives. Again, thanks for everything.” J.H. in North Carolina
“Thank you for all the help you have given me in this matter. I know that you and your staff used up countless hours to get to the bottom of this. If I come across anyone who has the same problem, I will recommend you and your team without hesitation!! Blessings to you and your staff.” M.F. in Texas
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Have there been any jury verdicts
A. Yes! The plaintiffs have won two verdicts in the amounts of $1.7 million and $7.1 million for three plaintiffs. The defense has won two verdicts. We are preparing for trial now, which will begin in a few weeks and trusting the jury will do the right thing and render a favorable result for the plaintiff. The verdicts follow:
|1. May 8, 2021||Luke Estes, Stephen Hacker, Lewis Keefer||$7.1 million verdict|
|2. May 28, 2021||Dustin McCombs||Defense verdict|
|3. June 7, 2021||Lloyd Eugene Baker||$1.7 million verdict|
|4. September 10, 2021||Brandon Adkins||Defense verdict|
|5. October 18, 2021||Michelle Marie Blum|
Q. How much does it cost to review a case?
A. Nothing! Reviews by our medical legal team are FREE. We advance the costs necessary to investigate and file the claim, if the case appears to have merit. Costs advanced are reimbursed to us at the case’s conclusion, after we make a financial settlement. If your case does not settle, we charge you nothing as a fee or expenses
Q. How much is my claim worth?
A. There are many factors to consider in a product liability lawsuit. Each case is evaluated based upon the injuries caused by the product and the liability associated with the product. Much of this evidence is contained in the medical records. It is reasonable to assume that, that if there is little or no record of injuries and treatment, that claim will not have an evaluation for high compensation. Conversely, if the records contain significant evidence showing there are injuries and treatment that are caused by the product, that claim will have an evaluation for higher compensation.
Q. What type of injuries and treatment are being compensated?
A. In general, the following are considered: Tinnitus, hearing loss, constant or intermittent buzzing or ringing in ears that progresses.
Q. Are all the settlements the same?
A. No. Each case is settled based upon its own merits and criteria that can be proved caused your injuries. The type of hearing loss, tinnitus, or other hearing defects caused by the product is determined by your own individual records. The plaintiffs must prove that each of the products are defective and dangerous, that the defective products caused the injuries and damages associated with each of the products, and the manufacturers failed to warn of the dangers of the products. Developing the defective and dangerous product liability portion of the cases takes months to years in trials and involves hundreds of depositions and hours in document research and medical review. Bellwether cases are chosen by the judge and the verdicts in those cases assist with the settlement criteria. The cases are evaluated based on the evidence contained in the supporting records and military documents. Clients do not have to agree to any settlement offer.
Q: What is a contingency fee?
A.A contingency fee is not paid until, and unless, there is a successful financial outcome of a claim. Most medical device, pharmaceutical and personal injury cases use a contingency fee contract because plaintiffs often can’t afford to pay an attorney for services rendered on an hourly basis. If we recover nothing, we receive no fee.
Q. Will my case go to trial?
A. The vast majority of claims we file settle before trial, without court or jury. In many of our cases, the manufacturers will settle all of our claims, rather than go to trial with us. Since no one can predict whether or not a case will settle, our medical legal trial attorneys prepare all cases for trial. In many instances, hundreds to thousands of claims will be heard in order and there are statute of limitations which limit the time to file a claim, therefore, we suggest you begin the claims process as soon as possible.
Q.What is the statute of limitations (time limit) to make a claim for injuries?
A. Most states have a one year, two year or three-year time limit from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit, but it varies with each type of case. If you believe that you have a claim where the statute of limitations may be running, we urge you to contact us immediately. We cannot take a case if the statute has run or is soon to run.
Q. What is consolidation?
A.Consolidation allows for one judge to make consistent rulings on how the cases should proceed. The cases exist as individual lawsuits, but one judge hears all of the evidence and makes rulings. The judge will typically choose certain cases, called bellwethers, to try before the juries. The verdicts in the bellwether trials assist with developing the criteria and settlement value for the cases. Depending on the circumstances and the status of the litigation, however, some cases may not be consolidated and may be filed individually in state court.
Q. Why isn’t my name on the bellwether trial list?
A: Your case was not chosen by the Judge and lawyers to be extensively prepared to present to a jury in the first group of bellwether trials. The plaintiffs choose clients that were healthy before using the product, but after using the product have been damaged. The defendants choose claimants that have less evidence proving the product caused the injuries. The manufacturers’ goal is to prove their products are safe through their testing and experts so that the jury will find no product liability and the claimant receives nothing. The vast majority of cases settle before trial, so we expect most cases will settle before trial.
Q: What happens to my case if it isn’t a bellwether case?
A. Your case remains in the system and continues being prepared until we reach a settlement or trial. Cases are undergoing critical evaluation for liability, causation and damages. This includes retrieval and analysis of records, uncovering the efficacy of the manufacturers’ testing, scientific data and warnings associated with the product and linking the plaintiff’s injuries to the product. At any time, the defendant manufacturers may make credible settlement offers on your case before, during and after the bellwether trials.
Q. What is an aggregate settlement?
A. In mass tort cases, multiple clients may be represented by one group of lawyers. The defendants may choose to make an aggregate settlement to multiple claimants. Each claimant in the aggregate settlement will receive a settlement based on their own records, such as severity of injuries, personal medical history, duration of use of a defendant’s product, etc. The parties develop criteria to ensure claimants with more significant injuries or stronger claims receive more money, those with lesser injuries and weaker claims receive less. This process has oversight and must be approved by special masters, former judges to ensure the settlements are fair to each claimant.
Q. What is going on in the trials?
A. At this stage of the litigation, we are preparing for the fifth trial. The manufacturers are fighting to obliterate their culpability, minimize our clients’ damages and have launched their defenses with testimony and expert opinions from doctors, engineers, scientists, corporate executives, sales representatives. As experienced mass tort lawyers, having been through this with many of the same corporations and their lawyers, we expect this and continue preparing our cases for trial and settlement. As settlement negotiations are conducted, we continue to move forward preparing our cases, maximizing your damages, and uncovering the manufacturers’ liability until settlement in final is reached.
We look forward to working with you in your claim for compensation. Call us toll free at 1-800-814-4540.