As thousands of members of the military are pursuing compensation for hearing damage they blame on 3M combat earplugs, a judge hearing the case ordered the company’s internal documents released. They reveal the fact that the company was well aware of the defect in the product. They also make clear the fact that the company failed to adequately alert the military of the problem, thus leaving soldiers vulnerable to significant harm.
Tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women who suffered permanent hearing loss after using military-provided earplugs have filed suit against 3M and their subsidiary Aearo Technologies, accusing them of designing a defective product and covering up damaging tests, and now evidence has been submitted showing company employees joking about the huge profit margins earned on the product. Recently released deposition testimony also revealed company employees displaying a shocking lack of empathy for those harmed by their product.
In the last few years, more than 140,000 individual plaintiffs have multi-district litigation accusing 3M Co. of defectively designing and manufacturing earplugs that led to their hearing loss and tinnitus. In early April a Florida federal court heard arguments over whether the case should be heard or dismissed. While 3M offered the assertion that their actions were permitted because of a government contract preemption, those representing the injured argued that the company had marketed their Combat Arms Earplug v2 to the public for civilian use, therefore nullifying the company’s defense.
To date, there have been at least 635 lawsuits filed by more than 1,700 U.S. military veterans over defective 3M earplugs, and today dozens of those cases were moved from Hennepin County District Court to the federal court in Minnesota. The move comes at the request of 3M, which has denied all charges of liability for hearing loss suffered by those who used their product.
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