3M is one of the biggest suppliers of earplugs to the U.S. military. Between 2003 and 2015, hundreds of thousands of veterans relied on 3Ms earplugs to protect them. The earplugs that 3M sold to the military was allegedly defective. In 2015, close to a hundred military members filed a class-action lawsuit against 3M for a variety of issues caused by these defective earplugs.
3M is based in Minnesota. According to the plaintiffs in the early cases, the earplugs were defective and resulted in hearing loss, tinnitus, and loss of balance. These 100 cases were settled in 2018 and the Justice Department ordered 3M to pay $9.1 million in damages. However, as more people came forward with claims of hearing damage, thousands of additional cases have been filed.
As of this year, more than 140,000 plaintiffs have joined a class action against 3M. They are making the same allegations that the initial 100 plaintiffs made. The case is now scheduled to go to trial sometime next year.
What was the Alleged Defect with the 3M Earplugs?
According to the 3M class action, the earplugs did not adequately protect the soldiers who wore them. The yellow earplugs were supposed to protect soldiers from loud noises but still let them hear things at a normal level. The allegations are that the earplugs were too short to go deep enough in the wearer’s ear canal to work. As a result, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered tinnitus, hearing loss, and other injuries.
3M claims that this was not the case. They argue that all of the tests they conducted on the earplugs were done in conjunction with the military. They also claim that they shared the results of all of this testing with the government. When it came to the size of the short earplugs, they claimed that this version was made for people with very large ear canals. The government and counsel for the plaintiffs do not buy this argument. That is why so many class-action lawyers in Arkansas are signing on new plaintiffs for the 3M lawsuit.
Why Are There So Many New 3M Lawsuits Being Filed?
When the first 3M earplug lawsuits were filed, there were only about 100 plaintiffs. When the case was resolved for more than $9 million, more potential plaintiffs became interested in pursuing a claim against 3M. As of the spring of 2020, more than 140,000 additional plaintiffs had joined the class action. This is because the courts have disclosed a ton of new documents showing that 3M had knowledge that the earplugs didn’t work properly. The attorneys handling the current class-action lawsuit against 3M intend to use these internal documents to prove their case.
3M settled the early lawsuits for just $9.1 million. The earplug sales to the government made up about 5% of the company’s revenue. However, these sales accounted for as much as 20% of the company’s operating income. This means that the company made a ton of money on defective earplugs that were sold to the military and the U.S. government.
3M Claims that They Shared All Information with the Government and that the Earplugs Were Not Defective
Despite the fact that they were ordered to pay $9.1 million in the 2018 settlement, 3M still insists that their earplugs were not defective. They said that they made the earplugs per the government’s specifications. They refuse to admit that there is any wrongdoing on their part. It is expected that it would cost a ton more for the company to settle the current class action than it did the first round of lawsuits. As of now, the case is slotted to go to trial. It is going to be heard by Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
Contact a Class Action Lawyer in Arkansas Today
If you or your loved one suffered an injury as a result of wearing 3M earplugs, you may have a claim for damages. You only have a certain amount of time to join the class-action lawsuit. You should call our office as soon as possible and schedule your free, initial consultation. Sit down with someone who knows how to pursue defective product cases. Our attorneys at the Keith Law Group can answer any questions you may have. They can also give you an idea of how the class action process works. Call today and schedule your first meeting right away. And remember – you don’t pay until your case is settled or resolved.