3M is a major corporation headquartered in Saint Paul, Minnesota, that sells thousands of work-related products. You may recognize the name from some of your household items, such as scotch tape, post-it notes, and removable hooks that stick to your wall. Another popular product that the company is known for are their 3M earplugs. 

Recently, the company has been the target of a major lawsuit involving their 3M earplugs. In 2016, one of 3M’s competitors filed a complaint against the corporation under the False Claims Act, alleging that 3M made false claims regarding the safety and design of the earplugs. Specifically, these earplugs were supplied to members of the U.S. military for use in combat. 

Although 3M settled the lawsuit in 2018 and has since agreed to pay the government $9.1 million, lawsuits from veterans and other affected military members are still being filed against the corporation to recover damages for injuries caused by the defective earplugs. 

As such, if you or your loved one has been injured by 3M earplug products, then you should consult a local attorney for further legal advice about the matter as soon as possible.

What Types of Defects are Associated with 3M Earplugs?

Some types of defects associated with 3M earplugs include that:

  • The earplugs themselves are too short for proper use, thereby causing them to slip out during times when their use may be necessary;  
  • The earplugs do not provide the two levels of hearing (i.e., open and closed) as promised;
  • The earplugs fall below general safety standards, meaning that they are not safe and do not protect the wearer’s hearing; and 
  • The defects in the earplugs’ design renders the overall product flawed and useless.

What Injuries are Associated with Defective 3M Earplugs?

According to multiple legal claims as well as articles about the defective 3M earplugs, some of the primary injuries associated with their use include the following:

  • Tinnitus (a medical condition that causes ringing or buzzing in one’s ears);
  • Temporary or permanent hearing loss;
  • Deafness; 
  • Loss of balance;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Permanent ear damage; and/or
  • Various other related injuries.

Can I Sue if I’ve Been Injured by 3M Earplugs? Who Can Be Held Liable?

A person who has suffered injuries due to using 3M earplugs may be able to sue for damages. The typical plaintiff in most of these cases is a veteran who served in the military between the years of 2003 to 2015, and who has suffered hearing loss as a result of using the defective 3M earplugs. 

Additionally, the majority of lawsuits are holding 3M liable for damages.

Am I Entitled to Any Damages? 

An individual who has been injured as a result of using 3M earplug products may be eligible to receive compensatory damages for related medical expenses, such as tinnitus and temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Aside from medical expenses, an injured party may also be able to recover for future lost wages, damages for pain and suffering, disability benefits, and possibly punitive damages.

What Needed to Prove a 3M Defective Earplug Lawsuit?

Lawsuits that involve dangerous or defective products are usually based on one of four legal theories: negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, or misrepresentation. The most common cause of action used in these types of cases is negligence. This means that the plaintiff will be required to show that a manufacturer knew or should have known about the potential risks regarding the design of their product. 

Thus, in order to prove that 3M earplugs were defectively designed, a plaintiff will have to demonstrate the following elements:

  • That the plaintiff used the product as it was intended;
  • The manufacturer could foresee that the product’s design posed a risk of danger when used for its intended purposes;
  • That there was an alternative design the manufacturer could have adopted to make the product safer, and that this alternative design would perform just as well or the same as the product in question;
  • That the cost necessary to make the safer alternative design would not be unreasonable; and
  • Despite proper use, the plaintiff still suffered injuries as a result of using the product.

In addition, depending on the plaintiff’s jurisdiction, they may have to prove that the product created a risk of danger that goes beyond what the ordinary consumer would expect to happen when the product is used for its intended purposes. This is known as the “consumer expectations test” and would replace the elements above that discuss a safer alternative design. 

To learn more about these legal theories and the type that applies to products liability cases in northern Virginia, it is important that an injured party contact a local lawyer as soon as possible. 

Can I File a 3M Defective Earplug Lawsuit in the Northern Virginia Area?

An individual or a family member of an individual residing in the Northern Virginia area who served in the military and was affected by 3M earplugs, may be eligible to file a defective products lawsuit.

The best way for a person to find out whether they are eligible for such suits is to contact a local Virginia attorney. The longer the person delays, the less likely they will be able to bring an action based on this particular harm.

Does Northern Virginia Have any Special Laws Governing Defective Products Like 3M Earplugs?

Aside from Virginia’s statute of limitations, which are essentially laws that regulate the amount of time a claimant has to bring a lawsuit, there are two other special laws in Virginia that may affect a case. 

The first is that under Virginia law, the buyer of a defective product must notify the seller within a reasonable time frame (usually two years in Virginia) after the buyer discovers or should have discovered that the product was defective. The person injured by the product must also be the purchaser, or related to the purchaser. 

However, this law will most likely not affect any cases concerning 3M earplugs since the U.S. government supplied the defective earplugs to military members. As such, military members are not considered the purchasers, so this time frame will probably be extended as more injuries arise.

Additionally, the other important law that will have an impact on 3M earplugs cases being heard in Virginia state concerns Multi-District Litigation, or MDL for short. Given the vast number of cases, multiple districts in Virginia will most likely consolidate claims against 3M for resulting earplugs injuries. This means that each plaintiff will receive an individual settlement amount, but their case will be lumped together with many other Virginia plaintiffs.

Since products liability cases are extremely complex, consolidating 3M cases into MDL will give the plaintiffs an advantage because this type of procedure usually makes the legal process go faster. 

Do I Need a Northern Virginia Lawyer for Help with a 3M Earplug Lawsuit? 

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries as a result of using 3M Earplugs, then you should consult a Northern Virginia lawyer for further legal guidance as soon as possible. Your lawyer will be able to determine whether you or your loved one has a viable claim, can help you prepare and file a lawsuit, and can provide representation in court.

It is important that you speak to a local personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later, so that you can file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, and so that you do not miss the opportunity to join in multidistrict litigation.