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3M Earplug Lawsuit: Settlement Talks to Begin As Over 230,000 Cases Remain

Product Liability Injuries
3m earplug lawsuit

A federal court ordered settlement talks to begin in an attempt to resolve over 230,000 lawsuits remaining in the Combat Arms earplug lawsuit against 3M. U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers of the Northern District of Florida determined that mediation will begin on July 15. 

The Combat Arms earplug lawsuits against 3M represent the largest mass tort action in history. Hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs claim that the earplugs issued to service members for more than 10 years contained critical defects. These design flaws led to hearing loss and tinnitus, among other damages. Call us today to learn more.

Have Plaintiffs Won Settlements in the 3M Combat Arms Case?

As of May 2022, the 16 bellwether trials in the 3M lawsuits concluded, and juries awarded several verdicts to military veterans. Bellwether trials are test cases in mass torts, which allow key plaintiffs to present arguments for their damages. 

Nine of the 16 bellwether cases were decided in favor of the plaintiffs, including:

  • James Beal: $77.5 million
  • Ronald E. Sloan and William Wayman: $110 million
  • Luke Vilsmeyer: $50 million

Over $300 million in damages have been awarded to 13 plaintiffs. Punitive damages constitute a substantial amount of these awards. These damages are intended to punish 3M for especially negligent conduct towards service members. 

Existing Evidence Could Resolve Remaining 3M Combat Arms Cases 

In spite of these substantial awards for some of the case’s key plaintiffs, hundreds of thousands of cases in the mass tort are not yet resolved. Judge Rodgers notes that these remaining cases, which number over 230,000, could soon be sent to the 94 U.S. district courts across the country—a situation that could overwhelm federal courts. 

In a court order calling for settlement mediation, Rodgers states that both sides of the case now have more than enough evidence to understand the nature and validity of the remaining lawsuits. Judge Roberts calls for both sides to engage in a serious and meaningful attempt to use this evidence and negotiate settlements in as many cases as possible.

This means that some plaintiffs in these outstanding cases could soon see a resolution and even settlement offers.

How 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Became the Largest Mass Tort in History

Because 3M contracted with the federal government and issued standard earplugs for service members for more than 10 years, large numbers of service members were affected by the product’s defects. 

In addition to injury cases, 3M also paid $9.1 million to the federal government in 2018 for violating the False Claims Act. 3M was found to have knowingly sold defective earplugs that loosened in users’ ears due to their size—and caused hearing damage. These defects were not properly disclosed to the U.S. military. (Department of Justice)

Today, the case against 3M represents the largest mass tort in history. 

You Can Get Legal Help if a Defective Product Harmed You

You could still take legal action if your hearing loss or damage resulted from a defective 3M Combat Arms version 2 (CAEv2) earplug or another defective product. Many personal injury and mass tort lawyers offer free case reviews so you can learn your legal options. Fill out our contact form to connect with a firm today.