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Jury Describes 3M Hearing-Loss Evaluation 'Problematic'

Jury Describes 3M Hearing-Loss Evaluation 'Problematic'

Jury Describes 3M Hearing-Loss Evaluation 'Problematic'


The federal court in Florida handling the multidistrict case over hearing loss caused by allegedly defective 3M combat earplugs has called the company's technique to evaluate hearing loss "problematic."

The U.S. District Court encouraged both 3M and the plaintiffs in a notice to the parties to uphold their obligation of openness to the court and the public regarding the merits of the various techniques of quantifying hearing injuries.

She claims that 3M's pure tone average-based technique removes the two frequencies most often impacted by noise while including two frequencies seldom affected by noise, which she claims is problematic in litigation when noise-induced hearing impairment is asserted.

The World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, according to the judgment, warn against using pure tone average rating methods for diagnostic reasons or as the primary factor in measuring hearing-related harm.

According to the judge, the plaintiffs' technique, which relies solely on hearing threshold alterations in audiometric data, does not discriminate between temporary and permanent shifts and does not quantify an individual's present hearing-loss status.

The notification follows an estimate motion filed on March 1 in the bankruptcy of 3M affiliate Aearo Technologies LLC alleging that US Department of Defense statistics reveal that the great majority of claimants in the MDL receive routine hearings.

According to 3M, DOD statistics for over 175,000 claimants reveal that over 90% have no hearing damage according to American Medical Association criteria. According to 3M, more than 85% of people have normal hearing under the World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health criteria. According to 3M, approximately a quarter of the claimants with hearing impairment disclosed their condition in hearing tests before using the allegedly faulty earplugs.

Attorneys for the MDL plaintiffs called 3M's statement a misrepresentation of DOD data, claiming that approximately 85% of plaintiffs suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus, and said the estimation motion was yet another example of 3M's and its leadership's bad faith and unwillingness to provide proper care and support for the service members whose lives it destroyed.

The plaintiffs' counsel has filed a motion to reject the bankruptcy on the grounds that 3M is "not even in financial difficulty" and should not be allowed to evade verdicts in the MDL through the bankruptcy system.

After a series of first bellwether trials in the underlying Florida MDL relating to their allegedly faulty combat weapons earplugs v2, or CAEv2, went primarily against the business, resulting in over $300 million in damages judgements, 3M filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July.

More than 290,000 lawsuits have been filed against 3M by military service personnel and veterans who used CAEv2 while in the military, which they claim caused ailments such as hearing loss and tinnitus.

At the time of Aearo's bankruptcy filing, the business stated that it wanted to establish a $1 billion trust to satisfy such claims, as well as claims arising from discontinued Aearo mask and respirator products.

Aearo had sought the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to extend the automatic bankruptcy stay to include 3M, but he denied that request in August, stating that the continuation of the existing [MDL] activities had no financial impact on creditors, much alone a significant and adverse one.

After seven months of formal mediation offered no settlements to any of the hundreds of claims made by former military members, the court terminated mediation in the MDL in January. The judge declared that mediation had essentially hit an impasse due to the lack of progress and 3M's stated decision to instead try to resolve all claims through bankruptcy proceedings.


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