This article offers an in-depth analysis of the 3M earplug lawsuit, encompassing the genesis of the litigation, the unfolding legal challenges, and the present status of the case.
3M Earplug Lawsuit Updates – May 2023
The St. Paul-based manufacturer and merchant of these yellow and dark green earplugs, 3M, has a product named Combat Arms Earplug Version 2 or CAEv2. They were established by a company acquired by 3M in 2008 called, Aearo Technologies. With this, 3M is held accountable for regulating the product before and after the year 2008. This article discusses the various lawsuits against 3M’s earplugs and updates on how it’s going up until today.
3M Class Action Lawsuit: A Brief Introduction
To ensure protection from hearing impairment among the members of the military, 3M earplugs were considered as baseline equipment. Military members are susceptible to extremely loud noises (i.e., from aircraft, guns, explosives, and artillery), and having no ear protection can put them at risk for auricular ailments due to damaged eardrums. A contract was drawn up between 3M and the U.S. military through the U.S. Department of Defense. However, 3M admittedly expressed that their earplugs were not effective and it does not provide protection from hearing impairment, which exposes the soldiers to deafness.
Concerns on the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs
The design of the dual-ended earplugs had multiple defects such as being too small and could also not fit inside a soldier’s helmet. What 3M did is modify it by decreasing its length for a better fit. It then resulted in a major flaw as it did not go all the way in the ear. With this, the earplugs failed to meet the standard of an average-sized ear canal for a soldier, subsequently causing permanent hearing loss which these soldier veterans can sue for in a lawsuit against the company.
Today, the controversy surrounding 3M earplugs concerns various MDL class action lawsuits and is considered to be the largest MDL in history.
Updates on the Lawsuits Against 3M
You can find here the updates regarding the 3M earplug lawsuits over the years, beginning in 2022 until the present. Should you want to read about these mass tort settlements, most individuals know that there’s very little doubt that the situation looks ideal for a comprehensive legal settlement in the 3M lawsuits. However, there aren’t any certainties.
On May 3rd, 2022, James Beal, a plaintiff suing 3M for its defective earplug, and his last MDL trial (the 16th), will begin on Monday, May 9th. Once this trial concludes, the judge in charge would then forward these lawsuits for them to be tried in waves. Such dynamics would not be favorable for 3M as they are up against soldiers. Simultaneously, the brief response of the plaintiffs is needed in the 11th circuit early on in the following month.
Subsequently on May 4th, 2022, after the issuance of Case Management Order (CMO) #44 by the 3M earplug MDL judge which ordered 20,197 earplug-related lawsuits in the MDL to be transferred from administrative to the active docket, this would then be the first step leading to Phase 2 of the bellwether trials on earplugs. These 20,197 lawsuits will go through pretrial discovery, an unnerving process that involves a vast number of plaintiffs. Said claims would be moved to their respective federal district courts and undergo trial. These trials would similarly include massive groups of merged plaintiffs
Moving forward to May 9th, 2022, Army veteran James Beal’s last 3M earplugs bellwether trial occurs today. The trial is presided over by Judge Robin L. Rosenberg in Pensacola and was said to start off well. The week prior to this, the MDL judge awarded a summary judgment motion to Beal which beneficially obstructs 3M from doing any affirmative defense such as contributory negligence. Fast forwarding to May 11th, 2022, it was said that numerous plaintiffs, an estimated 20,000, under the 3M earplug class action lawsuit this week were disregarded after failing to provide the required documents to help maintain an active status on their cases. Said document that elicited their dismissal was the DD214 or the plaintiff’s military service record.
While Beal’s bellwether trial was almost concluding on May 16th, 2022, the MDL judge provided a show cause order which threatened 3M’s defense lawyers with punishments for “willful abuse of the trial process”. It has been 2 years since the judge started to become exasperated with 3M’s lawyers and was further triggered when they went up against the long-established procedural regulations on deposition appointments. However, 3M’s lawyer responded and attempted to stand with their position.
And on May 17th, 2022, a plaintiff named Ronald Sloan was provided a settlement amounting to $55 million, $15 million as compensation, and $40 million on penal harm, on the earplug lawsuit cases against 3M. After said settlement, 3M tried to counter the $15 million awarded for compensatory harm but the judge denied this as Sloan is protected by Kentucky law, and Kentucky laws do not permit prejudgment interest toward “bodily harm”.
Going back to Beal’s days 1 and 2 of the trial, the testimony of a prominent witness engineer was highlighted and it lasted for almost 8 hours. Further, the 3rd day of the trial showed Elliot Berger’s testimony. He was 3M’s audiology scientist as well as the lead of the Personal Safety Division of 3M. Similarly, he was part of the planning and examination team of the earplugs and became a key witness. While on the 4th day, the morning of the trial consisted of Beal taking the stand and afterward a clinical audiometrist from a medical center in Mississippi provided his testimony. Moreover, on day 5, an ENT specialist from a hospital in St. Louis provided their testimony which then supported both of the bellwether trials and helped them gain the settlement amounting to $110 million against 3M.
On the 7th day of the trial or on May 18th, 2022, presented another testimony from a technical senior service specialist from 3M and an ENT doctor that focuses on hearing. They both served in the military for over 20 years. And on May 19th, 2022, or its day 8, a live testimony from Dr. John Casali from Virginia Tech University was featured. 3M has been hiring his expertise in audiology, hearing protection, and acoustics in all of the bellwether lawsuits.
The last 3M earplug bellwether trial was over by the afternoon of May 20th, 2022, and has reached a settlement amount of $77.5 million. Its amount was the highest awarded verdict on an individual litigant. Once the 2 weeks filled with trials for Beal were over, this huge amount was finally its end. Beal’s settlement added to the staggering $300 million in damages given within the bellwether lawsuits.
A month after on June 17th, 2022, the judge demanded that on July 15, 2022, in-person settlement negotiations or discussions between 3M lawyers should at least go on for 3 days so that each side can express their efforts to accomplish multiple cases simultaneously.
Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal released an article on June 28th, 2022 prompted by the required settlement mediation ordered by the judge previously. This article presented how large a scale the lawsuits scrutinizing 3M’s earplugs currently are and how it amounts to billions of dollars in settlements.
Estes, Keefer, Hacker, and Baker are the plaintiffs that filed their counter to 3M’s 11th Circuit appeal in the same week on June 29th, 2022. The lawyers of the plaintiffs contend that 3M is not a contractor of the government and is not covered by the Feres Doctrine. Mainly because they weren’t able to provide specifications or an actual contract with the military to supply earplugs.
3M and Aearo Technologies’ countermoves and more on what happened to them
On the other hand on July 8th, 2022, the earplug company 3M wants to set apart lawsuits against their product that do not have practicable claims. The judge supported said efforts and required plaintiffs, those who have yet to comply with documents, and decided based on their reasons whether they get dismissed or not.
Subsequently, 3M filed a brief on July 13th, 2022, that aims to determine the court to put out judgments in 9 of the cases they failed. The judge struck this move as “improper” which further explained that a court document is “not a repository”.
Further updates on the required settlement mediation, both sides prepared for the next trials that will occur on July 25th, 2022. And on the next day, July 26th, 2022, 3M expressed bankruptcy today to settle the earplug lawsuit cases. Similarly, Aearo Technologies filed for bankruptcy and sought to make a trust fund settlement for the rest of the claims.
Later in the most recent brief on July 30th, 2022, 3M said that the bankruptcy that they sought was needed because the move expresses that the earplugs MDL are “broken beyond repair”. They also stated that the MDL is now exceeding with fake claims by litigants who weren’t disregarded from the case. However, the judge rebuked their decision to file for bankruptcy and its corresponding protection just because the MDL is siding with them. Subsequently, he provided proof against 3M that they’re not vetting the fake claims and showed that over 80,000 claimants were dismissed. Afterward, 3M was awarded a show cause order to identify if 3M expressed bad faith by filing for bankruptcy right after the mediation.
An automatic stay was given to Aearo Technologies on August 1st, 2022, however, it does not protect 3M. This means all of the affairs in the earplug litigation can move forward in opposition to 3M. Subsequently, the company requested the judge to extend the verdict to both Aearo and 3M, and not just on the latter alone.
And on August 27th, 2022, 3M failed to file for bankruptcy and was not granted. The judge similarly ruled that the bankruptcy should not affect the earplug lawsuits in opposition to 3M. Further, 3M’s stock goes down 10%. A horrible day for the company as it is its lowest in 3 years. 3M then filed for an appeal on their bankruptcy motion on September 1st, 2022
On September 6th, 2022, the judge ordered to halt of the earplug lawsuit and issued a new order for 3M to attend another mandatory settlement mediation given all the events that have happened related to the bankruptcy strategy.
Further, said settlement mediation talks start on September 15th, 2022, and 3M is provided with options such as to settle the cases or begin the next set of trials the following month with David George’s case. Afterward, no settlement resulted from the mediation talks on September 19th, 2022 from the week prior. However, another mediation talk will be scheduled in the next 14 days.
Settlement talks that occurred the day prior to September 20th, 2022 were said to make some progress. But before the talks began, 3M discussed a presentation to the financial analysts and investors that they would like to continue with filing for bankruptcy and resolve the lawsuit through that method.
On October 3rd, 2022, the spokesman of 3M mentioned that “parties and their attorneys will come together to negotiate a prompt resolution to this matter so that those veterans with eligible claims can be compensated sooner.” With this, the military veterans concurred.
More updates on the lawsuits against 3M Combat Arm Earplugs
Furthermore on the lawsuits, on October 4th, 2022, the judge moved the David George trial from October 24, 2022, to February 13, 2023, instead to put pressure on 3M to make a fair settlement offer.
And on October 11th, 2022, a motion that seeks a judgment summary was filed by plaintiffs in the 3M earplugs MDL on why the company is completely liable for the harm they caused because of their product. This was filed in order to obstruct any 3M counters that enable them to file for bankruptcy through Aearo. This motion is successful despite their first application of this motion given that the judge decided it was too premature. Subsequently, the appeal that 3M has filed is en route to the 7th circuit and was expedited by the U.S. Court of Appeals on October 14th, 2022.
The appeal of 3M was on October 23rd, 2022, adding to the expedited review of 3M’s appeal, their second motion which was a request to stay was granted by the judge which then blocks them to challenge her MDL verdicts in the Aearo bankruptcy litigation.
The following day on October 24th, 2022 3M insists that 3M and Aearo are two separate companies, however, upon deciding that Aearo will be hiring Kirkland & Ellis (the same law firm representing 3M) as their representatives, the U.S. Trustee intervened and asked the Southern District of Indiana to deny the said motion.
Afterward, on October 25th, 2022 3M requested the judge to file another motion on successor liability for summary judgment from the lawyers of plaintiffs from the 1st wave of cases. But the judge rejects to grant them permission.
Moreover, the judge motioned for the mediation talks to proceed on November 1st, 2022. She also added that a prompt appeal of her successor liability verdict will be accepted, signaling that she rules for plaintiffs.
What’s more, on November 14th, 2022, Aearo Technologies was allowed to be represented by K&E in the bankruptcy. This same law firm has been questioned by MDL plaintiffs since they similarly represent 3M and argues that this expresses “a conflict of interest”.
When Aearo Technologies filed for bankruptcy, the litigation in the 3M earplugs class action MDL have been halted through an automatic stay on December 1st, 2022. Additionally, a motion was filed by plaintiffs to “partially lift” the stay indicating that this should not be applied to these cases as they don’t include claims that directly hold Aearo liable.
And on December 17th, 2022, 3M filed an appellate brief in the 3rd circuit that requests an overruling toward the judge that ordered the company to remain uninvolved in Aearo’s proceedings.
Additionally on the day prior to December 23rd, 2022, the judge imposed punishments (3M Sanctions Order) on 3M regarding their “brazen abuse of the litigation process”. This sanction explicitly forbids the company from avoiding any responsibility that they may face from the earplug lawsuits by pointing fingers at Aearo Technologies (this subsidiary company is now in bankruptcy). This court order shows that the bankruptcy that Aearo filed is moot given that the MDL plaintiffs can now solely go after 3M.
2023 lawsuit updates on the 3M earplugs litigation
To start the year 2023, on January 6th, an additional 12 cases were put forward, while 30 were filed the day prior related to the 3M earplugs litigation. Further, it has been revealed by 3M on January 7th, 2023 that they have spent $450 million on attorney fees defending this lawsuit.
And on January 20th, 2023, the MDL judge ruled an order that terminates the settlement mediation sponsored by the court. In this order, the judge describes that in spite of all the effort that was put in all these years, 3M was still pushing forward with forcing claims to reach a settlement through the Aearo bankruptcy, hence, showing “no desire to reach a global resolution in the MDL”.
Moreover, the mediators in Indiana updated the bankruptcy court on January 21st, 2023, and have said that there will be a settlement mediation sometime in the early weeks of February. This occurred after there was a settlement impasse because the plaintiffs sought a fair settlement while 3M claimed a “bankruptcy-only resolution.”
What happened to Aearo Technologies’ file for bankruptcy
Moving forward, here are a few updates on the bankruptcy that Aearo has filed. The lawyers of the plaintiffs requested a judge on February 4th, 2023 to reject the Aearo bankruptcy petition after another bankruptcy case (Johnson & Johnson in the talc powder lawsuit) that was similar to this was dismissed. And on February 6th, 2023, the motion that seeks to dismiss the Aearo bankruptcy due to the “precedent” that occurred in the J&J bankruptcy case will be in the talks at the upcoming status conference the following week in the Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Indiana. This was filed by the plaintiffs of the 3M earplug litigation.
Ultimately, on the day prior to February 14th, 2023, the bankruptcy judge put off the hearing on the previous motion by the plaintiffs discussing the immediate rejection of Aearo Technologies’ bankruptcy and moved the holding of the hearing between the days of April 19 to 21, 2023.
What Is The 3M Earplug Lawsuit
Dual-Ended Combat Earplugs manufactured by the 3M Company between the years 2003 and 2015 have been found to be defective. These earplugs have caused severe hearing and ear damage to the men and women who served in the military as well as military contractors. 3M was recently sued and found guilty under the False Claims Act. The company misled government officials concerning these earplugs. This is the basis for 3M earplug lawsuits.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to defective 3M Earplugs while serving in the military or as a contractor for the U.S. government, you may already have an active 3M earplug lawsuit pending. If this is your situation, but you’re struggling to make ends meet while you wait for the resolution of your case, a 3M hearing lawsuit loan may be the help you need to pay today’s expenses while you continue your fight for just compensation. Tribeca Lawsuit Loans can help. Click the green “Apply Now” button at the top of the page or call our office at (866) 388-2288 to speak with a team member about your questions or concerns.
Why Would You Need a Lawsuit Loan for a 3M Case?
Even though 3M was found guilty of misleading government officials concerning the safety of their Dual-Ended Combat Earplugs, this was not a complete win. Under the terms of the False Claims Act guilty verdict, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that they supplied defective earplugs to service members and contractors.
However, none of the settlement money was allocated for the military service members or the contractors who sustained significant ear damage or hearing loss. Any person injured by defective 3M Earplugs has to file a 3M earplug lawsuit on their own against the company.
Unfortunately, doing so requires costly litigation that most victims in these situations cannot afford by themselves. A 3M Earplugs lawsuit loan acts as a cash advance against your future settlement. The funds from a military earplug lawsuit loan can be used to pay your current expenses while you continue to fight for the compensation you deserve.
How Lawsuit Loans Work for Mass Tort Cases
Mass tort lawsuit loans are often necessary for those standing up to companies in defective product cases. These loans are better described as “pre-settlement legal funding” that victims can receive in advance of an expected settlement or jury verdict award. With a 3M earplug pre-settlement loan, you can dip into your future settlement to meet your needs today.
We have a proud history of helping plaintiffs cover a myriad of expenses that they incur due to the harm that companies have done. Our 3M earplug pre-settlement funding can help cover expenses such as:
- All medical bills resulting from hearing loss or ear damage
- Any necessary hearing devices
- Daily expenses like food and gasoline
- Rent and mortgage payments
- Utility bills
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity
- Litigation expenses
You can use your 3M earplug lawsuit funding in any way you choose, without restrictions. Best of all, there is no risk to your personal finances or property when you take out a 3M hearing loss lawsuit loan. All of our pre-settlement legal funding loans are “non-recourse” loans, so your income and assets can never be used to repay the loan.
What is a Non-Recourse Loan?
Every pre-settlement loan we fund (i.e. 3M earplug lawsuits, employment lawsuits, and others) is a non-recourse loan. Designed to protect the borrower, non-recourse loans use your future settlement as collateral for the loan. Further, the only possible source for repayment of your military earplug lawsuit loan comes from the collateral. This means that you can never be charged more than the agreed-upon portion of your settlement. And once again, should you lose your case (no settlement or a jury verdict in your favor) — you don’t have to repay a dime!
Because a 3M earplug lawsuit loan is a non-recourse loan, our application process:
- Does not consider your income
- Does not run a credit check
- Does not evaluate your property or assets
Instead, we rely on information about your 3M hearing lawsuit claim like:
- Details about the damages you have suffered
- Your expected compensation
- The contact details of your attorney or the law firm representing you
- The expected duration of your military earplug lawsuit
With this information, we can determine how much money we can offer in your 3M earplug lawsuit loan.
How Much Funding Can You Get for a 3M Earplug Lawsuit Loan?
The amount of your military earplug lawsuit loan comes directly from your anticipated settlement. It is essentially a cash advance against your future settlement. To determine the size of the loan we can offer, we need to learn:
- The overall strength of your claim
- Your total damages
- The expected duration of your 3M earplug lawsuit
Just click the green “Apply Now” button at the top of the page to provide the information. We have streamlined our legal fund application process for 3M earplug lawsuits to be quick and hassle-free.
Tribeca Lawsuit Loans has provided clients with anywhere from $500 to $1,000,000 in legal funding for cases like your 3M hearing lawsuit. Once your loan is approved, and the paperwork is signed, we’ll deposit your money into your account in as little as 24 hours.
How Will You Pay the 3M Earplug Lawsuit Loan Back?
We understand that these product liability cases can take some time to resolve. However, after you successfully recover compensation through a 3M earplug settlement or as a result of a jury verdict, your attorney will receive payment from the company. At that time, your lawyer will write a check to us to pay back the agreed-upon amount, pay their attorney’s fees, and then send you the rest of the money. It’s that simple. You just wait for the money to come in.
Again, any 3M hearing loss lawsuit loan you take from us is considered non-recourse. So, if, for some reason, you receive no 3M earplug settlement or favorable jury verdict for your case — you will owe us nothing.