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UPDATE: 3M Defective Earplug Litigation for Military Service Members


Update: Next Round of Bellwether Trials Scheduled for 2022

The next round of Bellwether Trials has been scheduled in the historic multi-district litigation brought by tens of thousands of military veterans against 3M Company.

Here is the slate, which will be tried in front of Judge M. Casey Rodgers or Judge Lisa Wood:

McNeal v. 3M: March 14, 2022 – March 25, 2022

Wilkerson v. 3M: March 14, 2022 - March 25, 2022

Kelley v. 3M: March 28, 2022 – April 8, 2022

Vaughn v. 3M: April 18, 2022 – April 29, 2022

Vilsmeyer v. 3M: May 9, 2022 – May 20, 2022


3M Company, one of the largest companies in the United States (you know, the one that makes Scotch tape and scratch pads and pet hair rollers, and a whole lot more), is being sued by veterans across the country who used 3M earplugs while in the military to protect against hearing loss.

The United States government filed a lawsuit against 3M in 2018, alleging that 3M sold these earplugs to the U.S. Military with the knowledge that they didn’t work. To settle the case, 3M paid the United States $9.1 million.

Despite what a lot of people on social media and elsewhere seem to believe, the $9.1 million settlement was not distributed amongst service members who sustained hearing loss because of the defective 3M earplugs. The money went to the U.S. government and the whistleblower who outed 3M.

Bellwether Trials for Service Members

So what happens with the tens of thousands of servicemen and women who have permanent hearing loss and tinnitus due to the defective earplugs?

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida (in Pensacola) is overseeing a process called Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). This is not the same thing as a class action, in which one case is brought on behalf of multiple (sometimes thousands) of individuals. In an MDL, thousands of individuals bring individual cases, and then “test cases” are tried before the Court to help shape the eventual settlement of the remaining cases. These “test cases” are also called “bellwether cases” or “bellwether trials.”

Some of these “bellwether cases” have resulted in verdicts, which bode well for the servicemen and women. The first involved three plaintiffs and resulted in a $7.1 million verdict against 3M. The second trial resulted in a verdict for the defense. The third resulted in another verdict for the plaintiff for $1.7 million. These plaintiff verdicts mean 1) that 3M knew it was selling defective earplugs to our servicemen and women to use in training and combat; and 2) that our servicemen and women deserve to be compensated for the loss of their hearing and how it affects their lives.

The set of bellwether cases scheduled for 2022 will have an impact on all the other cases filed by servicemen and women. Eventually, after all the bellwether cases are tried, an attempt will be made to settle the remaining thousands of individual cases -- all overseen by the Court in Florida.

3M Earplug Attorney

If you or someone you know used the 3M earplugs in the military between 2003 and 2015 and sustained hearing loss or now deals with tinnitus or some other hearing issue, it’s time to speak to a personal injury attorney who understands the litigation against 3M and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Please call Doug Bailey at Bailey | Stock | Harmon | Cottam | Lopez LLP right away for a free consultation at (307) 222-4932.

And in the meantime:

  1. Hold onto your 3M earplugs (CAEv2) if you still have them.
  2. Gather any photos or videos showing you wearing the CAEv2 earplugs.
  3. Make a list of the base(s) you served on while using your CAEv2 earplugs.
  4. Summarize your exposure to IEDs or EFPs during your service.
  5. Keep a copy of your DD Form 214 and any other military paperwork dealing with hearing loss, discharge, or service-related disability.
Gather your medical records that show the treatment you’ve received for your hearing loss or other hearing issues.