3M Unsuccessful in Attempt to Blame the U.S. Military for the Defective Design of the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs

Posted by David P. McCormack

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Between 2003 and 2015, 3M Company, Inc. (“3M”) sold defective Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEV2) to the U.S. military to be used by service members. Veterans who used these earplugs now suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus. With approximately 200,000 claims pending against 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, LLC (“Aearo”) for these defective earplugs, 3M moved to dismiss all claims asserting the government contractor defense. 

3M filed for summary judgement (essentially asking the Court to dismiss the cases) alleging that it is immune from tort liability because the earplugs were designed in accordance with specifications given by the U.S. Army and that the U.S. Army was aware of the defective nature of the earplugs. On July 24, 2020, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in Pensacola, Florida, who is overseeing this multi-district product liability action, denied 3M’s motion. In allowing the cases to continue, Judge Rodgers ruled that: There is no evidence that the Army ever created or received detailed, quantitative descriptions or design drawings showing the component parts of the CAEV2, or describing how those parts should or would be integrated together into a finished product. Thus, it cannot be said that the Army ‘actually participated in discretionary design decisions for the CAEV2, either by designing the product itself or approving specifications prepared’ by Aearo.

Despite 3M’s claims, Aearo independently designed the subject earplugs. Nothing prevented Aearo or 3M from making design changes or providing warnings about the defective design. The 200,000 claims against 3M will continue to move forward. 

The SUGARMAN team is proud to represent service members in pursuing their claims and continues to work diligently to advocate for them. If you or a loved one was issued and used 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs and have been diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus, SUGARMAN’s personal injury lawyers can help. Fill out a Contact Form, call us at 617-542-1000 or email info@sugarman.com