Lawsuits against 3M are flooding federal courts as military veterans accuse the company of selling defective earplugs that failed to prevent hearing loss during training or combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.
As of December 16, 2019, there were 139,693 people who had registered their existing or future claims in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), according to a pretrial order issued on January 21.
The lawsuits generally allege that 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs were defective because they could slip out. This caused plaintiffs to suffer hearing loss and/or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) when they were exposed to loud noises.
Furthermore, the lawsuits claim the earplugs were too short to fully protect users from loud noises.
In December 2018, 3M agreed to pay a $9.1 million settlement to the military to resolve allegations of selling defective earplugs. 3M did not admit guilt in the settlement.
3M denies the allegations and claims that it is not responsible because the Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs were designed according to military specifications.
Nearly 3,000 lawsuits have been filed as of January 15. Instead of class action, the lawsuits are centralized in MDL No. 2885 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Florida.