Defective Military 3M Earplugs

3M Dual-Ended Earplugs Lawsuits – 6 Billion Dollar Settlement

In light of the 6 Billion Dollar Settlement, we are no longer evaluating or accepting 3M Earplug cases.  After getting hit with multiple verdicts, 3M attempted to skirt their liability to United Sates military heroes for providing defective ear plugs by filing bankruptcy. When this tactic failed, they finally agreed to settle these claims. Below is a discussion of these cases and the trial history for educational purposes only.

15 Trials With 9 Verdicts for the Injured Veterans

There were a total of 15 trials against 3M pertaining to the defective earplugs. 9 of those juries found for the injured veterans and awarded millions of dollars in compensation. In six of the verdicts, the jury found for 3M.  It is not known how many Bellwether trials will be required before a settlement might be reached.  The verdict results are as follows:

  • April 2021 – $7.1 million was awarded to Lewis Keefer, Luke Estes, and Stephen Hacker
  • May 2021 – 3m won a defense verdict against Dustin McCombs
  • June 2021 –  $1.7 million was awarded to Lloyd Baker
  • October 2021 – $8.2 million was awarded to Brandon Adkins
  • October 2021 – 3m won a defense verdict against Michelle Bloom
  • November 2021 $13 million was awarded to Guillermo Camarillorazo
  • November 2021 – 3m won a defense verdict against Joseph Palanki
  • December 2021 –   $22.5 million was awarded to Theodore Finley
  • December 2021 – 2 defense verdicts against Carlos Montello and Carter Stelling
  • January 2022 – $110,000,000 verdict awarded to Plaintiffs Roger Sloan and William Wayman
  • March 2022 – $8,000,000 awarded to veteran Wilkerson
  • March 2022 – $50,000,000 awarded to Army veteran Luke Vilsmeyer
  • April 2022 – defense verdict against Denise Kelly
  • April 2022 – $2,200,000 awarded to Jonathan Vaughn

How to Know if You Used 3M Dual-Ended Earplugs

3M dual-sidedThe 3M dual-ended earplugs in question were used by all branches of the military except the Navy between 2003-2015. They were often provided to soldiers via large bins.  The dual-ended earplugs in question are believed to be the only dual-ended earplugs used by the military during that time. They have a green side and a yellow side, each with three pflanges. The yellow side has a tiny hole in it which is intended to allow soldiers to hear orders but block out potentially damaging noise, while the green (or olive green) side is sold and is intended to prevent all noise while in blast zones.

Defective Earplugs Evidence

Documents revealed in a lawsuit against 3M suggest that studies were performed that demonstrated that the earplugs were too short to attain the level of protection they claimed. As a result, the protection provided was significantly lower than the earplugs were supposed to provide.   Current lawsuits allege that this information was not adequately conveyed to the intended user so that the earplugs could be utilized by way of proper instruction and/or warning. Documents have further suggested that the opposite side may have actually amplified the noise rather than blocked it. Furthermore, rapid removal of the earplug may actually lead to eardrum damage.

Injuries Caused by Defective Earplugs

The injuries that may have been suffered as a result of the use of defective earplugs include the following:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Deafness
  • Tinnitus
  • Eardrum Perforation or Damage

The 3M Whistleblower Lawsuit

In 2018, 3M paid 9.1 million dollars to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that they had knowledge of these defects and thus, defrauded the government. In conjunction with that settlement, a news release was made that 3M knew the plugs were too short to get deep enough to achieve the results claimed and did not tell the military. 3M did not admit liability in conjunction with that settlement.

Proving the 3M Earplugs Caused Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Military personnel typically have their hearing tested on several occasions during service. These occasions include entrance into the military, before deploying, after returning from being deployed, and upon discharge from service. In most cases, the hearing damage can be documented as hearing loss, hearing reduction, or tinnitus in the medical records in the serviceman’s file.



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