Tort Updates

what is the 3M® earplug claim?

The 3M® Earplug claim involves thousands of former and serving military personnel suing 3M® Company, claiming that their defective battle earplugs cost them their hearing ability. 

The 3M® Earplug claim is one of our time's largest product liability cases. The case involves thousands of former and serving military personnel suing 3M® Company, claiming that their defective battle earplugs cost them their hearing ability. 

Since the claim first surfaced, several lawsuit claims are yet to be resolved, with wins split between the defendants and plaintiffs into the few decided cases. 

defective earplug claim

The origin of the 3M® Earplug claim was in 2003 when the United States Military contracted 3M® Company to supply it with combat earplugs. The devices, whose production halted in 2015 without recall, were meant to protect the acting service members from the effects of loud combat noises that characterize military operations.

After 3M® stopped producing the earplugs, Moldex-Metric Inc., a competing company, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the company, claiming the earplugs it had supplied to the military were defective. 

Consequently, many military personnel suffered hearing-related problems from donning the protective equipment, which was not up to standard. After back-and-forth arguments, 3M® resolved to pay $9.1 million to the Department of Justice in 2018 without admitting liability to the claims.

Nonetheless, the settlement gave rise to several lawsuits from individual service members who claimed injury from the allegedly defective earplugs produced and supplied by 3M® Company. The number of claims rose over the years, and currently, more than 200,000 military service personnel claimants are suing the company.

Given the outrageous number of plaintiffs with similar claims, the cases were centralized into multidistrict litigation to avoid overwhelming the judicial system and ensure adequate case management. 

With around a quarter million cases, the 3M® lawsuit is the largest multidistrict litigation in the history of the United States judicial system.

injuries and damages caused by earplugs

The earplugs supplied by 3M® Company were meant to protect soldiers from the adverse sound effects of the battlefield. The dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2), produced by the company in collaboration with the US military, were designed to block loud noises during combat while allowing the user to hear softer, closer sounds.

However, the allegedly defective CAEv2 earplugs were too short in some users’ ears, thus failing to provide a proper seal to protect them from harmful noises. Consequently, the complainants in the 3M® Earplug lawsuit complained of ear-related injuries and damage, including:

hearing loss

Hearing loss is a common problem experienced by people in the military after years of service. As a result, the U.S Department of Veterans spends millions in compensation every year to remunerate ex-service personnel suffering from a disability.

The combat earplugs supplied by 3M® Company were meant to curb this problem by offering the needed protection and preventing ear damage. However, the devices’ alleged failure resulted in thousands of military personnel complaining of hearing loss. 

While some had partial hearing loss, others unfortunately completely lost their sense of hearing, forming grounds for a product liability claim.


Tinnitus is a hearing problem often characterized by ringing in the ears. The complication is common amongst military personnel and veterans who pick up ear injuries from their service.

A huge chunk of claimants in the defective earplugs claim complained of Tinnitus, which they attribute to the product’s failure to protect them from damaging battlefield noises as expected. 

The devices’ alleged design flaw arguably contributed to the plaintiffs’ development of the hearing complication, making them eligible for compensation from the 3M® Company.

3M® earplug settlement

With over 250,000 military personnel lodging claims in court, the 3M Earplug Lawsuit presents a daunting task to the judiciary to ensure aggrieved parties are adequately compensated. 

So far, only a handful of claimants have managed to secure settlements as compensation for their injuries as other cases proceed to trial.

The first cases to go into the trial were the 16 “bellwether” (test) cases which recorded wins for both the plaintiffs and defendant. Of the 16 cases, ten plaintiffs convinced the court they merited compensation from the 3M® Company, while the other six failed to persuade the court in their favor. 

The split decisions put the defendant and plaintiffs waiting for their cases to go into trial in confident positions to reach favorable settlement outcomes.

Nonetheless, the successful plaintiffs were awarded hefty settlements as compensation for injury attributed to the defective earplugs. In the decided cases, the court ruled that where aggrieved parties provided adequate evidence to prove the defective earplugs contributed to their hearing injury, they were eligible for compensation. The settlement awarded was dependent on the extent of the claimant’s injury.

who can file a claim and how?

Suppose you or a loved one sustained a hearing-related injury while serving in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015 when the 3M® Company distributed the combat earplugs. In that case, you can file a claim and may qualify for compensation.

However, military service alone isn’t enough to file a successful claim. Veterans and military personnel need to prove they used the 3M® Combat Arms Earplugs while in active service and suffered an injury leading to hearing-related problems from their use.

Civilians who purchased the earplugs and suffered hearing damage attributable to the product’s defects may also file a claim against 3M®.

If you fit the above categories, seek legal representation to help you file a claim in court. You can sue the 3M® Company for damages by filing a lawsuit with a lawyer.

what can i do if i think i was a victim? 

The 3M® Earplug claim is a renowned civil case lodged by veterans and military service members who allegedly suffered hearing-related injuries caused by defective combat earplugs manufactured and distributed by the 3M® Company. 

With thousands of plaintiffs claiming they are entitled to a settlement, the consolidated case is the largest multidistrict litigation case in the history of the United States. 

File a claim against the 3M® Company for compensation if you suffered from hearing-related conditions after using the company’s defective earplugs.

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