From at least 2003 through 2015, civilian contractor 3M sold defective CAEv.2 combat earplugs to our military branches. In 2018, 3M paid $9.1 million to resolve allegations that the earplugs failed to provide contractually promised hearing protection meeting military specifications. 3M of course denied accountability as a condition of settling the case. Since then, over 220,000 individual servicemembers sued 3M for their ear injuries and proceed in coordinated federal litigation in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
The scale of this litigation is unique in current federal jurisprudence. On February 17, 2021, the federal entity charged with coordinating litigation reported 350,562 active cases had been centralized under its orders. Of these cases, 224,650, over 64%, involve claims regarding 3M CAEv.2 combat earplugs. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts’ 2020 statistics report “cases involving other personal injuries/product liability climbed by 55,121 filings (up 548 percent). Most were part of multidistrict litigation filed in the Northern District of Florida that alleged injuries sustained while using 3M Combat Arms earplugs.”
Beginning May 28, 2021, veteran-plaintiff Dustin McCombs will present evidence that 3M knew as early as February 2000 that its CAEv.2 earplugs, when used as directed, placed service members at risk for permanent hearing loss and tinnitus (an ear injury symptom frequently experienced as a chronic ringing). After McCombs fires the first trial shot, the federal court will try a coordinated case involving three additional plaintiffs beginning April 5, 2021, followed by the case of plaintiff Lloyd Baker on June 7, 2021.
Much about this litigation remains unknown to the public. Because the cases involve military contracting and specifications, confidential service member records, and private health information of the veteran-plaintiffs, many of the records remain sealed. What is known is that ear injuries such as hearing loss and tinnitus are leading causes of service-related disabilities. The McCombs trial will bring to light for the first time the harms caused by this equipment issued to hundreds of thousands of service members.
Cellino Law has a team of veteran-attorneys, who are ready to speak with you should you have any questions regarding 3M earplug lawsuits. To speak to an attorney, call 1-800-555-5555.