Unsealed Documents in 3M Combat Earplugs Litigation

Posted by David P. McCormack

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In early 2019, SUGARMAN announced that it would be representing veterans and service members who used 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEV2) in product liability claims against 3M Company, Inc. (“3M”). 3M is now facing massive litigation with approximately 140,000 cases filed against them relating to this defective product. Between 2003 and 2015, these defective earplugs were marketed and sold to the federal government for use by the U.S. military. Thousands of veterans now suffer from hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing damage as a result of using the earplugs, which simply did not provide the hearing protection that 3M claimed they did. 

In April 2020, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers unsealed a host of 3M documents, including emails, internal memoranda, and depositions that showed that 3M officials had knowledge of the defective design of the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs at the time that they were being issued to our armed service members. The documents show that 3M did not believe it was necessary for service members to be aware of the defective design of its products or given instructions for effective usage. Deposition testimony also shows that despite 3M’s position that the U.S. military was aware of fitting issues, 3M was unable to identify any documents that corroborate this claim. Court documents revealed that when asked, “Is that okay, to sell a product and conceal information where it will have a negative effect on our soldiers?” a 3M executive responded “Yes.” 

Despite the mounting evidence, 3M continues to deny that its Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were defective. 3M’s main defense, however, is a technical one that it no way supports a conclusion that the earplugs were safe – 3M claims it is immune from liability because it acted as a government defense contractor. While private companies can be immune from civil claims arising out of government defense work, 3M has to be able to prove that the federal government was involved in the design of the earplugs and that it was also aware of the dangers said design presented. In April 2020, 3M and plaintiffs’ counsel filed briefs to determine whether or not 3M will be afforded an immunity defense. 

The SUGARMAN team is proud to represent service members in their claims and continues to work diligently to advocate for them. If you or a loved one was issued and used 3M’s 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