3M Combat Earplugs Lawsuit Settlements Summary 2021

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Select Justice
November 25, 2021

Bellwether trials alleging 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 caused hearing damage and loss continue to be heard in Pensacola, Florida. In these cases, veterans and active-duty soldiers allege that 3M’s earplugs had a defect that stopped them from forming a proper seal. This, they claim, allowed dangerously loud noises to enter the ear canal and damage hearing. 

Additionally, the plaintiffs claim that 3M was aware of the defect but did not disclose the problem nor provide proper instructions that could have allowed the earplugs to work correctly. 

If you believe that you or a loved one were harmed by 3M Earplugs, you may be entitled to compensation.

The cases in this mass tort litigation number nearly 260,000, which makes it the largest mass tort case ever.  

The first trial saw three veterans get awarded $7.1 million for their hearing damage. The money was awarded for punitive damages as well as compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain, and suffering. 

3M had its first victory in the second trial. Dustin McCombs was the veteran in the second trial. Ultimately, the jury in this case decided that 3M was not liable, negligent, nor fraudulent. 

In the third case, 3M was found to be 62% liable and paid out $1.7 million to veteran Lloyd Baker in that case. He claimed that the earplugs caused his tinnitus. The jurors in this case decided that 3M did not provide proper warnings for the earplugs. 

In the fourth case, a federal jury sided with U.S. Army veteran Brandon Adkins and awarded him $8.2 million. In his case, the earplugs caused both tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and hearing loss. Adkins served in the Army from 2004 to 2009 and completed two tours in Afghanistan. 

3M won again in the fifth bellwether case. In this case, Michelle Blum claimed that the earplugs caused her hearing loss and tinnitus, but the jury ultimately sided with 3M. After the trial concluded, 3M said in a statement, “We are pleased with today's verdict, which demonstrates once again that the CAEv2 product was effective and safe to use.”

3M Lawsuit Settlement Summary
3M Lawsuit Settlement Summary

In the sixth case, a jury sided with active-duty soldier Guillermo Camarillorazo, who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of the earplugs. He was awarded $13 million in damages, the largest amount awarded yet in these cases. Camarillorazo has served multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 

3M found its third victory in the seventh case, not being found accountable for Joseph Palanki’s hearing damage. 

Three more bellwether trials are scheduled for this mass tort litigation. Bellwether trials help both the plaintiffs and defendants get an understanding of how additional trials will go. This can help them reach settlements for the remaining cases.

In a joint statement, lawyers in the litigation said, “We plan to hold 3M fully accountable for the damage they have caused to those who served our nation.”

The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 were used by the U.S. Army from 2007-2013 and are now discontinued. While no recall was ever issued, 3M no longer provides this version of the earplugs. 

It was after 3M settled a whistleblower suit in 2018 that claims of hearing loss and damage began to pour in. Hearing loss is the number one service related disability in the United States. 

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