The Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) was manufactured by Aearo Technologies, Inc. prior to being taken over by 3M in 2008. The dual-ended 3M CAEv2 combat earplugs served as a standard form of military hearing protection in foreign conflicts for more than a decade, from 2002 to 2016. The 3M military earplugs are made of green and yellow with a double-ended design. The green end is inserted in order to block all sound, and insertion of the yellow end reduces the sound of gunfire and explosives but still allowed the service personnel to be part of a conversation. According to several lawsuits filed, the defective military earplugs cause two primary medical issues, tinnitus and hearing loss, mostly among veterans in the Navy and Air Force. The product was discontinued in 2015.
Serious Alleged Injuries May Include:
- Hearing Loss
- Tinnitus Or Loss Of Balance
FDA Safety Warnings:
Though the FDA website listed 45 3M products under their recalled list, it does not include military ear protection or any medical device recalls for Aearo Technologies.
Aearo Technologies and 3M
Plaintiffs in the defective 3M Earplug lawsuits allege that the design defects of the earplugs cause it to come off from the ear. The complaints asserted that Aero tested the product on their own employees and failed to meet the design standard requirements. Plaintiffs alleged that the earplugs left them with hearing loss and ringing in the ears.
More than 640 injury lawsuits related to the defective earplugs are centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDLNo. 2885; In Re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Litigation) against Minnesota-based 3M, overlooked by Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida.
Treatment for hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) now costs the VA health care system over $1 billion a year.
Important Verdicts & Settlements:
January 2021: A pair of orders were released in which U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers ruled in favor of two plaintiffs over the choice of states' laws that should be applied in their upcoming bellwether trials.
January 2021: A court order was issued in which U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers announced that the first bellwether trial, which is scheduled for April 5 through April 30, will involve claims filed by three plaintiffs.
December 2020: Plaintiffs involved in the lawsuits over hearing loss from 3M Combat Arms (CAEv2) earplugs filed a motion asking the presiding U.S. District Judge, Casey Rodgers, to consolidate five different claims from the “Group A” bellwether pool for one single trial.
October 2020: Medical examinations and hearing tests of the plaintiffs involved in the 3M earplugs lawsuits start.
July 2020: U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers rejects the manufacturer’s government contractor defense motion.
July 2020: U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers issued a pretrial order indicating that the first 3M combat earplug bellwether case will go to trial on April 5, 2021.
April 2020: Nationwide, military veterans who suffered from hearing loss due to 3M earplugs urged the court to reject the plea of 3M Company that argued to free itself from allegations of providing defective earplugs under “government contractor defense.”
March 2020: A group of 20 cases and five alternates were identified to be a part of early 3M earplug bellwether trials, set to begin in 2021.
January 2020: More than 300 military veterans filed lawsuits against 3M for deliberately manufacturing defective earplugs, which resulted in hearing loss during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and also during training in the U.S. military bases.
September 2019: A Master Complaint was adopted by the federal court to streamline the future cases that will be brought against 3M Company’s Combat Arms Earplug alleging permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.
September 2019: U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers rejected the two-track litigation proposal, allowing all class action lawsuits and individual personal injury claims involving the 3M Earplugs to proceed on a single litigation track.
June 2019: According to a court docket report dated June 19, nearly 1,000 product liability lawsuits were filed over hearing loss from 3M earplugs.
June 2019: The U.S District Judge lifts the stay for the discovery of 3M Combat Arms earplugs lawsuits and allows parties to start preparing claims for trial dates.
June 2019: Two plaintiffs file product liability lawsuits against 3M Earplugs Company and Aearo Technologies, LLC, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on June 12, indicating that earplugs issued to them caused them to suffer from permanent hearing damage following military service
June 2019: The "Science Day” was rescheduled for August, where the non-adversarial presentation would be designed to educate the court about the issues that will arise in the 3M Earplugs litigation over hearing loss.
May 2019: U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, in the Northern District of Florida, appointed attorneys for lead discovery, pretrial proceedings in 3M Earplugs lawsuits.
May 2019: According to a pretrial order issued in May 2019, all 3M Earplugs lawyers will make presentations for various leadership roles in the litigation established for all federal 3M Combat Arms earplug lawsuits.
May 2019: According to a motion filed on May 3, Judge Rodgers urged to establish a separate track for pretrial proceedings involving 3M Earplugs class action claims filed in the recent multidistrict litigation.
May 2019: According to a pretrial order issued by Judge Rodgers on May 05, all future federal 3M Earplugs lawsuits were allowed to be filed directly in the Northern District of Florida.
May 2019: For all federally-filed 3M Earplug lawsuits, a "Science & Technology Day" was scheduled for June 18, 2019, to educate the court on the scientific aspect of the litigation.