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July 11, 2019

Veteran Sues for Hearing Loss Caused by "Dangerously Defective" 3M Earplugs


Increasing numbers of U.S. military veterans are filing lawsuits against corporate giant 3M as soldiers discover hearing injuries tied to their use of 3M Combat Arms earplugs. One of the most recent, Army vet James C. Boyd, filed a lawsuit against 3M Company earlier last week. In the official complaint, Boyd states he sustained hearing injuries during training and/or active military duty from using 3M’s Dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs. Boyd’s lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, where it joins similar lawsuits currently pending in the 3M multidistrict litigation.

Resident of North Carolina, Boyd served for 20 years in the military before his 2018 discharge. During that time, Boyd alleges he was supplied “dangerously defective” 3M earplugs that contributed to his hearing loss, diagnosed in 2017. The 3M earplugs were meant to protect soldiers’ ears for various tasks, including but not limited to live fire training, combat and training exercises, and tank firing. However, the claimed earplug defect, a too-short earplug stem, caused the earplug to not fit properly in soldiers’ ears, subjecting soldiers to hazardous conditions.

These earplugs were issued to the military between 2003-2015, impacting potentially tens of thousands of soldiers for over a decade. The defective earplugs are not limited to state-based veterans; soldiers stationed across the globe could potentially be impacted. According to the complaint, Boyd was deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and Cambodia during is time in the military, which is when he alleges he sustained hearing injuries due to the 3M earplugs.

3M reached a $9.1 million settlement with the Department of justice over the 3M Dual-Sided Combat Arms earplugs in July of 2018 to resolve claims that 3M defrauded the military and government by knowingly selling them defective earplugs. However, increasing numbers of 3M earplug-related lawsuits are expected to increase in the upcoming months as 3M lawyers continue to review and file more cases on behalf of veterans across the country.

Judge M. Casey Rodgers, presiding judge of the 3M MDL in the Northern District of Florida, recently opened a time of discovery for parties involved in the MDL. If settlements over the earplugs are not reached by the end of the litigation proceedings, individual lawsuits are to be remanded back in to the U.S. District Courts for individual trial dates.

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