Over the last several months, there was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen in this massive litigation and whether military veterans would ever see compensation for the hearing loss they’ve sustained due to 3M’s defective earplugs.
3M was colluding with Aearo Technologies in a bankruptcy scheme to avoid liability altogether, appeals were being made to the higher courts on the cases in which veterans won significant verdicts, and mediations were turning out to be futile.
Well, on June 9, one of these issues was resolved. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana DISMISSED the Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions of the Aearo Defendants (subsidiaries of 3M). Of course, the Defendants are appealing, but for now, veterans can proceed with their claims, including with several more bellwether cases, which are scheduled for trial.
Additionally, the MDL Court in Florida has ordered further mediations. Perhaps in light of the bankruptcy petitions being dismissed, 3M will have more incentive to do the right thing and offer fair compensation to our military veterans who suffer from tinnitus and hearing loss.
If you’re not familiar with these cases, it’s helpful to know that more than 300,000 military veterans and active service members have filed claims against 3M for defects in the company’s combat earplugs that caused varying levels of hearing loss and tinnitus. The number of plaintiffs make this the largest mass tort in history called a Multi-District Litigation (MDL), which is being overseen by the Federal District Court of the Northern District of Florida.
As explained in past posts, this is not a class action in which there is one case and one plaintiff that represents the entire class of 300,000 plaintiffs. In this MDL, there are over 300,000 individual plaintiffs who have individual cases. Certain cases are selected by the Court to be tried. These are called “Bellwether Cases,” and the parties analyze the results of these cases in order to then craft a settlement to resolve the remaining hundreds of thousands of cases. Thus, the results of the Bellwether Cases significantly impact the ultimate outcome for every other plaintiff who has a claim.
Wins & Losses
In the past year, there have been 14 Bellwether Cases tried, involving 17 plaintiffs. Plaintiffs have won 8 of the 14 cases (including a $110 million verdict, a $50 million verdict, and a $22.5 million verdict). 3M, on the other hand, has won 6 of the cases, meaning the plaintiffs in these cases received nothing.
It’s a tight race in many ways, and we can only hope that the next round of cases will feature meritorious claims with strong and honest plaintiffs who deserve adequate compensation for hearing loss sustained while in serving this country. We can also hope that the recent developments and rulings from the Bankruptcy and MDL Courts will spur the negotiations and lead to a full and final settlement of all these claims. The servicemen and women who have hearing loss or tinnitus while serving our country certainly deserve compensation!
Presenting Your 3M Earplug Case
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. He will evaluate your claim, make sure you have the necessary proof, and help you to be confident with the truth of your case.
In the meantime:
- Hold onto your 3M earplugs (CAEv2) if you still have them.
- Gather any photos or videos showing you wearing the CAEv2 earplugs.
- Make a list of the base(s) you served on while using your CAEv2 earplugs.
- Summarize your exposure to IEDs or EFPs during your service.
- 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.