Ohio residents who have been following the case of defective 3M military earplugs may already be aware that a bellwether trial concerning the product began in late March. The trial serves as a sort of “test” trial that will help determine the outcomes of thousands of other similar lawsuits against the company. This trial makes up the largest mass tort in federal court history, and 3M’s stock has fallen approximately 20% since 2018.
While 3M claims that the products were tested and worked properly at the time, over 200,000 veterans and service members brought lawsuits against the company when they experienced hearing damage, despite using the earplugs. Those who filed lawsuits claimed that 3M, and its designers at Aearo Technologies, manipulated test results and failed to give proper instructions for the products’ use.
For some of these earplugs, which were used by the military from 2003 to 2015, certain areas of the plugs had to be folded over to ensure a proper fit. While 3M claims the government was made aware of this, veterans claim that the military was never informed and only later found out through other litigation. As a result, many veterans and service members struggle with constant ringing in their ears that interrupts their daily life.
Service members are frequently exposed to loud noises on the job, and hearing damage is a common injury among military veterans. This damage can affect other aspects of life, such as mental health. They need to be able to trust in their protective equipment, and a design flaw could result in life-altering effects. If you have suffered hearing damage due to ineffective equipment, a lawyer could help determine if you have a case.