3M is a large US company that produces a number of products like adhesives, masks, medical products, dental products, and parts for use in electrical work, and many more. 3M previously produced earplugs that became standard issue for the US military and were supplied to thousands of servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 to 2015.
The earplugs were marketed as being dual-purpose. Worn one way, they were meant to allow sounds like speech to be heard. When worn with the opposite end inserted into the ear, they were meant to provide protection from damaging sounds like gunfire.
What Defects are Associated with 3M Earplugs?
It is now known that the earplugs had a critical design defect. They were too short for proper insertion into the ear and would therefore gradually loosen during. This effectively rendered the earplugs useless. As a result, many who used them suffered injuries that may require legal action for compensation.
What Types of Injuries are Associated with Defective 3M Earplugs?
Because of the defective 3M earplugs, many military personnel were needlessly exposed to sounds loud enough to cause permanent damage to their ears, such as gunfire, aircraft, and explosions.
Common injuries associated with the defective earplugs are hearing loss and tinnitus, which is a buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears. The noise may be constant or it may come and go.
Can I Sue Someone if I’ve Been Injured by 3M Earplugs? Who is Liable?
Yes. Servicemembers who actually used the earplugs during this time may be able to file a lawsuit if they are suffering from the symptoms associated with the defective earplugs. 3M has argued that they are immune from lawsuits because they were a government contractor, but that idea has been rejected by the Department of Justice and 3M should be held liable for injuries suffered as a result of their defective products.
(It’s important to note: You will need to make sure that you were in fact issued the exact type of earplug with the defect. The plugs were double sided with one end being yellow and the other end being olive green.)
In 2018, a whistleblower came forward resulting in 3M being accused and found guilty of knowingly distributing the defective earplugs to the U.S. military without warning of the potential dangers.
3M was ordered to pay $9.1 million directly to the U.S. military, basically refunding the amount the military had spent on the earplugs. Unfortunately, none of that money actually went to members of the military who were injured as a result of the defective earplugs, leaving those injured with the responsibility of seeking their own compensation.
What Types of Damages Can I be Entitled To?
If you were suffered injury as a result of the defective 3M earplugs, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the following costs associated with your injury:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medicines
- Hearing aids
- Lost wages
- Diminished future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
What Proof is Needed in a 3M Defective Earplug Lawsuit?
The law varies from state to state, but you will generally have to prove the following:
- You were injured
- The earplugs were defective (Internal 3M documents were recently released that prove the company knew the product was defective as early as 2000) mn
- The defect in the earplugs is what caused your injury
- You were using the earplugs as intended
Can I File a 3M Defective Earplug Lawsuit in the D.C. Area?
Yes. you can file a lawsuit against 3M for injuries caused by their defective earplugs in the D.C. area.
Does D.C. Have any Special Laws Governing Defective Products Like 3M Earplugs?
Under Washington, D.C. product liability law, manufacturers are strictly liable for their defective products. That means that even if the earplugs were safely designed, properly manufactured, and contained an appropriate warning, 3M may be liable for injuries resulting from use of the earplugs simply because the earplugs caused those injuries.
The general theory is that if a consumer was charged with having to prove who in the chain of production was liable for the product causing the injury, consumers would have almost no chance to win their case.
The result is that a case against 3M for the defective earplugs will be even easier to prove in Washington D.C.
Should I Hire a D.C. Lawyer for Help with a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?
Even though D.C. follows strict product liability, a case like this is still fairly complex. Since most non-lawyers find it difficult or impossible to navigate the courts on their own, it is likely in your best interest to consider hiring a D.C. lawyer for help with a defective 3M earplug lawsuit. Your attorney can provide guidance and legal representation for your case.