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Illinois 3M Earplugs Injury Attorney

Illinois Defective 3M Earplugs Injury Attorney

Chicago Defective Products Lawyer for Hearing Loss and Other Injuries Caused by Defective Earplugs

There are multiple types of defective products that may cause people to suffer serious harm. Even though manufacturers are supposed to test products to uncover potential defects, take the proper measures to ensure products are manufactured correctly, and provide instructions on how products should be used and warnings about potential risks, many companies fail to meet these requirements. Some of the most troubling of these cases involve products that are meant to protect people's health and safety. When products that are supposed to prevent injuries are defective, people who thought they were taking the correct safety measures may be put at risk of serious harm, and they may suffer permanent disabilities.

In recent years, an especially egregious example of product manufacturer negligence has come to light. 3M, a major international corporation, provided earplugs to the U.S. military that were meant to protect soldiers' hearing in combat situations. Unfortunately, these earplugs did not work as intended, and as a result, many people who have served in the military have experienced hearing loss and other related health conditions. Veterans who served in combat and other members of the military who used these earplugs may be able to take legal action against 3M. Newland & Newland, LLP can help these victims understand their options, including determining whether they may be able to join existing lawsuits or receive settlements that will address the damages they have suffered.

Injuries Caused by Defective Earplugs

In 2002, Aearo Technologies Inc. entered into a contract with the United States military to provide earplugs that would be used by soldiers in combat situations. Aearo was acquired by 3M in 2008, and the company continued to provide earplugs to the military through 2015. However, these earplugs have been found to be defective, and due to their widespread use in multiple branches of the military between 2003 and 2016, thousands of service members may have been exposed to the risk of injury.

Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) are double-ended earplugs that were meant to provide protection in different situations. One end of the earplugs was intended to provide some protection against loud noises while still allowing soldiers to hear speech and certain other sounds. The other end of the earplugs was supposed to provide full protection, blocking out noises such as explosions and gunfire that could injure a person's ears. However, due to design defects, these earplugs did not provide a proper seal that protected against damage. The company also failed to provide instructions on how to properly fit earplugs into the ear, and this led to the risk of earplugs becoming loose and failing to provide soldiers with the necessary protection.

Exposure to loud noises without the proper protection can cause permanent damage to a person's hearing. Many members of the military who suffer from hearing loss also experience tinnitus. This condition involves continuous or intermittent ringing, buzzing, roaring, or hissing sounds in the ears.

3M Earplug Injury FAQs

How Many Military Members Were Affected by Defective Earplugs?

Starting in 2002, Aearo Technologies Inc. received an exclusive contract to provide combat earplugs to the U.S. military. 3M, a major international corporation, acquired Aearo Technologies in 2008, and the contract with the military lasted through 2015. Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were issued to more than two million service members during this contract. These earplugs were used in combat situations by troops deployed to foreign countries, as well as in training exercises and on airfields where people were regularly exposed to loud noises that could potentially cause hearing loss injuries.

Was 3M Aware that Earplugs Were Defective?

Based on evidence submitted in a lawsuit against 3M by the U.S. Department of Justice, it has been alleged that the company was aware the earplugs provided to the military were too short to provide adequate protection against hearing loss for some users. While the military required the manufacturer to certify that earplugs met the proper standards, the company did not disclose that internal tests showed that earplugs that had not been properly fitted failed to meet the military's standards. While the manufacturer was required to provide detailed instructions to ensure that earplugs would be inserted properly by their users, they stopped doing so after Aearo Technologies was acquired by 3M. This lack of proper instructions greatly increased the risks of hearing loss for service members who used the earplugs.

Have Lawsuits Against 3M to Address Defective Earplugs Been Successful?

In 2018, the Department of Justice and 3M reached a settlement in which 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million because it had supplied defective earplugs to the military. While 3M did not admit any liability, and the settlement addressed the military's financial losses rather than injuries by any individual service members, the outcome of this case indicated that the company had knowingly provided earplugs that did not adequately protect against hearing loss.

Since 2019, thousands of military members have initiated lawsuits against 3M, and many of these lawsuits have been grouped together into multi-district litigation (MDL), allowing many of the same relevant facts and evidence to be considered in multiple cases. Between May and October of 2021, multiple "bellwether" trials have been held, and the majority of these have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts against 3M. Based on the results of these trials and other trials that will be held in the near future, others who have been injured may have a good chance of success when pursuing lawsuits against 3M and seeking compensation for their injuries.

Contact Our Chicago Defective Earplug Injury Attorney

People who serve in the military deserve the utmost respect, and they should be able to make use of equipment that protects them from harm as much as possible. Unfortunately, many people in the armed forces who believed that they were taking the proper measures to prevent hearing loss were exposed to the risk of injury. To address the harm they have suffered, service members may be able to take legal action against 3M and recover compensation for hearing loss. To learn how Newland & Newland, LLP can assist with these cases, contact us at 847-797-8000 and arrange a complimentary consultation.

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