On March 29, 2021 in Pensacola, Florida, jury selection began for the very first 3M earplug trial involving three United States military veterans. The trial will deal with the veterans’ allegations that the earplugs were defective and caused them to develop hearing problems, such as a ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
As first reported by Reuters, the trial not only consolidates these three military veterans’ lawsuits but is also expected to “be used to assess key evidence and damages and potentially shape a deal to resolve thousands of other cases,” most of which have been brought forth by veterans aged 30 to 49. Therefore, this trial is, as Reuters put it, somewhat of a “bellwether.”
Dave Henderson, a U.S. combat veteran, who completed his very first deployment to Iraq back in 2010, was provided with 3M military earplugs to protect his hearing, but they did not stop him from developing hearing problems and tinnitus. “We had no choice but to use the 3M earplugs,” Mr. Henderson told Reuters. “We trusted that our equipment would work.”
The trial hinges on two questions:
- Did earplug designer Aearo Technologies, acquired by 3M, manipulate and misrepresent product test results to the Department of Defense and push defective earplugs to market?
- Even if these earplugs are found not to be defective, did the company fail to instruct the military on how to use them safely and effectively?
3M has found itself at the center of several legal battles and is also behind Post-it notes, ACE bandages, and many of the nation’s N95 face masks. In regards to the earplug trial, it denies all allegations and asserts that the Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 were both safe and functional when fitted and used properly. Nevertheless, this earplug litigation is, according to Reuters, “the largest mass tort ever brought in federal court.”
About Wilson Law, P.A.
Our legal team at Wilson Law, P.A. is skilled in handling a variety of product liability cases, including those concerning military earplugs. Whether you or a loved one has suffered hearing loss or damage due to single-ended or dual-ended combat earplugs, our firm will fight for your justice and to protect future generations of service members from the same harm.
Contact Wilson Law, P.A. online or at (919) 800-0919 today to get started with a free case review.