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An Act of Willful Negligence
Between 2003 and 2015, Aearo Technologies, Inc. and 3M, an American multinational corporation, supplied the United States military with 22 million defective earplugs. As a result, over 2.6 million veterans have suffered partial or total hearing loss, tinnitus, loss of balance, and other ear and hearing-related disabilities.
According to a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2016, both companies knew their product, the Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), was defective, and still allowed it to be distributed to the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. These earplugs were supposed to reduce intense combat noises, such as gunfire and explosions, without obstructing low-level sounds, like vocal commands. However, the short stem that is used to connect the dual portions of the earplug has a tendency to dislodge over time, rendering the product useless. Legally, the companies should have disclosed this information to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency before the contract was finalized. Instead, they falsified test results and lied about the safety of their product to become the military’s exclusive earplug provider.
JPML Consolidates 600+ Lawsuits
In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle allegations that it knowingly sold a defective product to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. However, there are still millions of veterans suffering from hearing-related medical conditions as a result of 3M’s willful negligence. Consequently, over 600 veterans have filed individual claims against 3M to secure restitution that alleviates their injury-related financial losses. These lawsuits seek compensatory and punitive damages for counts of strict liability, negligence, failure to warn, and fraudulent misrepresentation.
These lawsuits claim 3M and its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies, Inc.:
- Manufactured and sold a defective product.
- Knew about the design defect and failed to warn the military.
- Failed to provide adequate user instructions.
The JPML issued a Transfer Order after determining that these 600+ lawsuits all “involve common factual questions arising out of allegations that defendants’ Combat Arms earplugs were defective, causing plaintiffs to develop hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Issues concerning the design, testing, sale, and marketing of the Combat Arms earplugs are common to all actions. Centralization will eliminate duplicate discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings on Daubert issues, and other pretrial matters, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”
Going forward, all lawsuits regarding the Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) will be automatically transferred to the Northern District of Florida, where Judge M. Casey Rodgers will oversee the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).
Explore Your Legal Options Today
Contact the Florida trial lawyers at The Ferraro Law Firm if you’ve suffered hearing-related medical complications after using 3M’s defective product. Our experienced legal team has been representing the rights of injured Floridians for over 30 years. You can rely on attorneys to thoroughly investigate your case, compile evidence, and guide you through each step of this complex legal process.
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