If you have served your country in the armed forces, you were issued a uniform and protective equipment to keep you safe in active duty. These pieces of equipment are usually obtained through contracts between the government and private companies and service members expect this gear to be tested and safe.
Unfortunately, as the 3M military lawsuit situation shows, those who bravely protect our country are sometimes harmed in the line of duty and there are questions about the safety of some equipment. If you used 3M earplugs during your military service and have suffered hearing loss or tinnitus since, you may want to contact Pastrana & Garcia Injury Law for a free consultation to find out if you may qualify for a 3M earplug lawsuit and compensation for your injuries.
Why Is There a Lawsuit Against 3M Earplugs?
Between 2008 and 2015, as part of a government contract, the multinational manufacturer 3M sold earplugs known as Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) to the military. In 2018, a lawsuit was filed, in which a whistleblower alleged that 3M knew the earplugs were defective but sold them to the military anyway. 3M denied wrongdoing but reached a settlement with the Department of Justice for $9.1 million.
Since then, veterans who suffered hearing loss and other injuries because of the earplugs have sued 3M for damages. In court, injured veterans and their attorneys have presented evidence that the design of the earplugs was allegedly faulty, with a shortened stem that did not allow for a correct fit. The short stem allowed the earplugs to become dislodged without the veterans noticing it, according to lawsuits, and when the earplugs loosened, they did not provide any protection.
What Hearing-Related and Other Bodily Damages Are Plaintiffs Making Claims For?
Earplugs are an important part of the protective gear service members wear. Our ears are made up of membranes, nerves, hair cells, and other parts which can be damaged by loud noise. Whispering is measured at about 30 decibels (dB), while noises over 70 dB can cause hearing loss and damage over time. Noises over 120 dB can cause damage and hearing loss immediately.
Those who serve in the military have a higher-than-average risk of hearing loss and injuries caused by loud noises. In fact, hearing loss is the most common service-linked disability. Explosions and detonations can reach over 180 dB while some rifles can reach 190 dB. Noises at this level can cause serious, permanent injuries without proper earplugs and hearing protection, and veterans in the 3M lawsuits have claimed that defective 3M earplugs have caused a few different injuries, including:
- Partial hearing loss. Some veterans have said that their hearing is reduced. People with partial hearing loss may experience reduced hearing in one or both ears, and this can cause them to some, louder sounds but not other, quieter noises.
- Complete hearing loss. Some veterans have experienced almost total loss of hearing in one or both ears after their service, so they are not able to hear conversations and much of the world around them.
- Tinnitus is a condition caused by damage to the ear. It leads to a persistent buzzing or ringing sound in the ears. In some cases, it can be severe enough to leave a veteran unable to sleep or focus.
It’s hard to overstate the impact of these conditions. Hearing and ear damage can cause anxiety, can impact relationships, and can even cause problems with balance and other complications. Problems with hearing can make it hard for service members to live their lives, understand the world around them as easily, and in some cases can affect their careers.
How Much Have Eligible Recipients Received So Far?
Veterans are seeking compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, and other costs related to hearing loss and tinnitus. They are also often seeking punitive damages. Punitive damages refer to a dollar amount awarded to punish or hold a company responsible for knowing the risk associated with the defect and proceed with the sale of the equipment anyway.
Interestingly, in the 3M lawsuits which have been before the courts so far, juries have awarded large punitive damages, sometimes over $10 million, suggesting that they feel 3M needs to be held responsible.
There is no average hearing protection lawsuit. Military veterans in some cases have lost to 3M in court and in other cases have been awarded tens of millions of dollars. In the largest single settlement, one Army veteran was awarded $77.5 million. In another case, an injured soldier received a $2.2 million verdict. According to the latest update on 3M earplug lawsuit cases, more than $300 million has been awarded by juries to injured veterans so far as of June 2022, but 3M has appealed all these decisions.
Will Claims Impact VA Disability Benefits?
The veterans are all suing 3M after experiencing hearing loss. The military has not been named as a defendant and veterans who have hearing loss because of their service are eligible for VA benefits. If you are already receiving disability benefits from the VA, filing a lawsuit will not impact your benefits unless they are needs-based or income-based. When you speak with Pastrana & Garcia Injury Law, we can go over your benefits in detail to explain your options.
Is the 3M Settlement Real?
There is a lot of information online about the 3M lawsuit and some veterans have heard rumors or have been told that all military service members will get money. In reality, 3M lawsuits are very much real and in fact, represent the largest mass tort action in our nation’s history.
Don’t fall for a 3M earplug scam. If you have been injured or have suffered hearing loss after using 3M Combat Arms earplugs, contact Pastrana & Garcia Injury Law for a free consultation. Our law firm can make an evaluation about your case and provide you with our honest legal opinion, with no cost and no obligation.
How Can Speaking to An Attorney Like Pastrana & Garcia Injury Law Help?
Working with Pastrana & Garcia Injury Law means working with a legal team who genuinely cares about your wellbeing as well as the outcome of your case. As a result, we provide personalized attention and take care of the details, from filing the paperwork to seeking the best compensation possible in your case. We provide you with a 3M case update on your lawsuit and answer your questions.
At Pastrana & Garcia Injury Law, our team is fully bilingual in English and Spanish, so we speak your language. We’re also experienced both in negotiation and in state and federal courts. We have helped many people in Texas who have been injured in construction accidents, workplace accidents, and unsafe products. We are used to facing big corporations and getting fair compensation for our clients, so if you’ve been injured by 3M earplugs, contact us for a free consultation today. Let’s talk about what we can do to seek compensation so you can move forward after your injury.