3M Earplug Lawsuit


LAWSUIT STATUS: Settlement Pending: New Case No Longer Accepted

Lawsuits alleged that defective 3M earplugs were distributed to military service members between 2003 and 2015, which failed to provide adequate ear protection during deployments and training.

Lawyers previously investigated new cases for individuals who;

  • Served in the military between 2003 and 2015;
  • Issued Dual End or Reversible Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2); and
  • Diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

3M Earplug Lawsuit 2023 Update

  • 3M Combat Arm Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were standard issue for all military service members between 2003 and 2015
  • Design defects with the reversible 3M earplugs exposed users to a risk of permanent hearing damage and tinnitus
  • More than 300,000 veterans filed 3M earplug lawsuits and juries have awarded millions in damages in early trials
  • In August 2023, Bloomberg News reported that the manufacturer proposed a $5.5 billion earplug settlement to resolve hearing loss lawsuits filed by veterans.

3M Earplug Lawsuit Settlement Updates

  • March 26, 2024 Update: The 3M earplug settlement required a minimum of 98% participation from eligible plaintiffs to proceed. On March 26, 3M Company issued a press release confirming that the earplug settlement participation rate is now over 99% for eligible claimants, with more than 249,000 claimants agreeing to the settlement deal, while another 41,000 lawsuits have been dismissed, which will likely bring an end to the massive litigation.
  • August 28, 2023 Update: A 3M earplug lawsuit settlement was reached on August 28, 2023, providing roughly $6 billion in funds to resolve allegations raised in more than 250,000 lawsuits filed by U.S. military personnel who claimed the defective 3M earplugs caused them to develop permanent hearing problems. The agreement encompasses $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in 3M stock, with disbursements set from 2023 through 2029.

3M Earplug Lawsuit Overview

Millions of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were sold to the U.S. Government, which were standard military issue equipment for all service members between 2003 and 2015.

These military earplugs are “dual-ended” or “reversible”, featuring one end that is olive/dark green/brown and acts like a traditional earplug, blocking all sound. The other end is yellow and provides “non-linear” or “selective attenuation”, which is intended to block loud impulse sounds of battlefield explosions or artillery fire, while allowing the user to hear quiet noises, such as spoken commands or enemy combatants.

According to allegations raised in 3M earplug lawsuits filed by former service members, the manufacturer knew for years that it was selling defective military earplugs that were too short to properly fit the ear canal. This decision to place profits before the health and safety of users has left military service members with permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.

Who Qualified for a 3M Earplugs Lawsuit Payout?

Financial compensation from a 3M earplug lawsuit settlement has been made available for individuals who;

  • Served in the Military Between 2003 and 2015 and were Issued Dual-End or Reversible Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2),
  • AND Diagnosed with Hearing Loss or Tinnitus (Ringing in Ear)

Common Symptoms of 3M Earplug Injuries

Nearly three million U.S. veterans currently receive benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Symptoms may include:

  • Listening to television and radio at high volumes
  • Trouble understanding speech, particularly in noisy environments
  • Often asking people to repeat themselves
  • Needing a hearing aid

Will a Military Earplug Settlement Impact My VA Benefits?

No. Receiving a 3M earplug lawsuit payout will not impact VA disability benefits you are receiving, which are based on injury to the veteran and not income or financial need. If you are receiving VA benefits for hearing loss, payments will continue. If you received a settlement or lawsuit payout , it may impact certain needs-based or income-based VA benefits and there may be lien obligations. However, you will still be eligible for VA coverage in the future.

The 3M military earplug lawsuits are being pursued against the manufacturer only, not the U.S. Government or any branch of service.

Latest 3M Earplugs Lawsuit Updates in 2023

August 2023 Update: Bloomberg News reports that a $5.5 billion 3M earplug settlement has been proposed, which would be paid out over five years. Details of any proposed fund have not yet been released.

June 2023 Update: In an important ruling, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey Graham issued an order dismissing the 3M earplug lawsuit bankruptcy filing on June 9, setting the stage for a stay on the litigation to be lifted and bellwether trials to get underway again. Last month, Judge Rodgers identified a group of 31 earplug lawsuits that will “soon” be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial date, and several large waves of claims could be ready for trial by the end of 2023. Aearo, 3M’s subsidiary has appealed the 3M earplug lawsuit bankruptcy dismissal to the Eleventh Circuit.

May 2023 Update: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit heard oral arguments on May 1, regarding a challenge to early jury verdicts totaling $8.2 million awarded to four veterans. A day later, Judge Rodgers ordered that settlement talks between 3M and earplug hearing loss plaintiffs resume, indicating that both sides face “far more uncertainty than ever existed before”, warranting renewed exploration of whether a settlement can be reached.

January 2023 Update: After 3M earplug lawsuit settlement negotiations reached an “impasse”, Judge Rodgers terminated further court-ordered mediation efforts as the MDL, bankruptcy and various appeals proceed, which are likely to take several years to run their course.

December 2022 Update: After plaintiffs filed for a summary judgment, Judge Rodgers sanctioned 3M for an effort to claim it did not bear liability for 3M earplug injuries, barring the legal defense and declaring 3M Company had acted in “bad faith” after being hit with $300 million in earplug lawsuit jury verdicts during the bellwether trials.

November 2022 Update: Judge Rodgers has put in place a stay on the 3M earplug litigation, while ordering the parties to continue hearing loss settlement negotiations during any interlocutory appeal regarding 3M Company’s independent liability for defective Combat Arms earplugs developed by it’s now-bankrupt subsidiary. A group of veterans whose trials were set to be held in the first wave of cases remanded back to federal courts have filed a motion to have the 3M earplug lawsuit stay lifted.

Show More 3M Earplug Lawsuit Updates

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3M Earplug Settlement With DOJ Over Fraud

The 3M earplug litigation first emerged after the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $9.1 million settlement with 3M Company over the Combat Arms earplugs in July 2018, resolving claims that the manufacturer committed fraud by knowingly selling defective earplugs to the government.

According to allegations raised in a complaint that led to this 3M earplug settlement with the U.S. government:

  • 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were defectively designed, causing them to imperceptibly loosen in users ears over time, which was not disclosed to the U.S. government or military service members;
  • False and inaccurate noise reduction ratings (NRR) for the earplugs were provided by 3M Company, which employed testing methods that did not comply with required or accepted standards;
  • Earplug noise reduction ratings listed on the packaging materials and instructions failed to accurately reflect the true level of hearing protection provided.

The Justice Department alleged that the earplugs were too short to fit in many ears and imperceptibly would move out of place, making them ineffective. In addition, critics say neither 3M nor Aearo provided proper use instructions to soldiers, which should have told the wearers to fold back the flanges on the open end of the plug before inserting the closed end into their ears so that they properly fit.

Is there a 3M Earplug Class Action Lawsuit?

Following the controversial allegations raised in the U.S. Department of Justice investigation, a number of 3M earplug class action lawsuits and individual hearing loss lawsuits were filed throughout federal courts by former and active military service members.

By May 2021, more than 600 cases had been filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, which prompted the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to establish coordinated pretrial proceedings in the federal court system. All 3M earplug claims were centralized before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida for common discovery and pretrial proceedings, where the litigation has been managed in a manner similar to a 3M earplug class action lawsuit. However, each claim remained an individual lawsuit, where plaintiffs established that their hearing loss was caused by the 3M earplug.

By March 2024, 3M Company reported  that more than 290,000 former and current military service members who suffered hearing damage were pursuing damages against the manufacturer. However, more than 41,000 claims have been dismissed by the courts.

3M Earplug Lawsuit Payout Amounts Awarded by Juries

Between March 2021 and May 2022, a series of early “bellwether” trials were scheduled by U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

A series of 16 jury trials were held, involving 19 separate plaintiffs. 3M lawsuit payouts were awarded in 10 of the cases, with damages of nearly $300 million returned over the failure to disclose known safety defects with the earplugs

Below is a guide to the 3M earplug verdicts returned so far, which have sent a strong signal about the extent of liability the manufacturer and the amount it may have to pay to settle 3M earplug lawsuits brought by service members with hearing loss and tinnitus.

Settlement Amounts Awarded in 3M Earplug Bellwether Trials

In April 2021, the first Combat Arms hearing loss bellwether trial ended in a $7.1 million verdict for three veterans who suffered hearing damage due to the defective design of the earplugs. A number of trials have followed since, with $8.2 million in damages awarded to a veteran in September 2021, a $13 million verdict awarded in November 2021, and a $22 million verdict awarded in December 2021.

In late January 2022, a jury awarded the largest verdict yet, $110 million to two veterans who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus. In late March 2022, 3M lost two cases on the same day, with jury awards totaling $58 million returned. In late April 2022, another U.S. Army veteran was awarded $2.2 million for hearing loss damage linked to the earplugs. The final bellwether trial ended in a $77.5 million verdict in May 2022, resulting in a total of nine losses and six defense verdicts for 3M.

Judge Rodgers has ordered the parties to prepare several large “waves” of 3M earplug cases for remand to U.S. District Courts. However, a stay on those proceedings was issued in late 2022, while 3M Company pursues an interlocutory appeal to the Eleventh Circuit.

3M Earplug Lawsuit Settlement

After initial trials resulted in significant awards against the manufacturer, Judge Rodgers introduced a “wave” process to handle the numerous claims. This process grouped hundreds of claims for further discovery before they were to be sent back to various U.S. District Courts across the country for individual trials.

However, before these trials could commence in 17 federal courts, 3M agreed to settle the earplug litigation for nearly $6 billion, on the condition that at least 98% of the eligible plaintiffs agreed to the settlement terms, with the option for 3M to withdraw if this condition was not met.

On March 26, 3M confirmed that the earplug settlement participation rate is now over 99% of eligible claimants, with 249,000 out of more than 293,000 agreeing to the settlement terms, and over 41,000 claims dismissed by the court. 3M anticipates that the final participation rate will exceed 99.9% after processing all registrations.

The company indicates it will pay up to $6 billion to the participants from 2023 to 2029, with some of the funds coming in the form of common stock. 3M notes that it and its subsidiary, Aearo, are engaged in efforts to have insurance offset a portion of the settlement payments.

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3M Earplug Lawsuit Examples

As a result of the manufacturers’ failure to properly test the effectiveness and fit of Combat Arms earplugs, lawsuits have been filed to obtain financial compensation for military personnel who were left with hearing loss or tinnitus.

Many of the lawsuits claim If proper testing had been conducted and adequate warnings provided about problems with the earplugs, it is unlikely they would have been standard issue to military personnel, and hundreds of thousands, potentially millions, of cases of hearing damage could have been avoided.

U.S. Army Veteran Hearing Loss & Tinnitus Lawsuit: Filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia in February 2019, U.S. Army veteran Ulrick T. John claims he now suffers from hearing loss, tinnitus and requires use of a hearing aid due to design defects with the 3M’s Combat Arms dual-ended earplugs.

John states he first joined the military in January 1993, and was deployed to Iraq from May 2008 to August 2009, and again from November 2010 to November 2011. The lawsuit states during his training and both deployments he was provided the 3M Dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs to protect him against loud impulse noises and explosions.

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Suffers Tinnitus From Defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs: Filed by Shannon Weaver in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in February 2019, Weaver claims he was issued the Dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs to protect against loud noises that included servicing the electronic systems within military helicopters and regularly working in close proximity to the loud, propeller-generated aircrafts, among other things.

Weaver states he now suffers from partial hearing loss and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and requires hearing aids in both ears due to 3M’s failure to disclose known failures and defects.


  • DavidAugust 25, 2023 at 11:20 am

    I wore them as an Army Infantryman from ‘06-‘15 and specifically wore them in combat and when I taught Jumpmaster school. I was medically retired in 2015 for tinnitus and severe bi lateral sensorineural hearing loss, not passing hearing tests for the last five years of my career, which makes no sense cause I had only been in four years when I stopped passing them. It definitely makes a lot of sen[Show More]I wore them as an Army Infantryman from ‘06-‘15 and specifically wore them in combat and when I taught Jumpmaster school. I was medically retired in 2015 for tinnitus and severe bi lateral sensorineural hearing loss, not passing hearing tests for the last five years of my career, which makes no sense cause I had only been in four years when I stopped passing them. It definitely makes a lot of sense now, knowing we were being issued defective ear plugs.

  • CMay 20, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    I had terrible tinnitus after serving 6 year in the marines. 2 combat, worked on helps (ch53E) and towards en of service and shortly after coming home I could barely walk straight. Terrible ringing, you all know. By all said and done hope fo some justice.

  • JohnMay 18, 2023 at 7:16 am

    US Army Vet OIF 09/10 used these hearing aids and knew withing a few weeks I already had ringing in my ears when I tried sleeping. Never got better, only more intense. Id gladly remove myself from this trial if they would give me peace of mind and my hearing back.

  • NataschaFebruary 25, 2023 at 8:57 am

    My Husband used those in Iraq… he has a VA rating for tinnitus and has the TV up so loud it causes distress to other family members including me… He has been diagnosed with hearing loss not only by VA but also SSDI Doctors.

  • DaveDecember 3, 2022 at 5:38 am

    These earplugs would not stay in your ear for nothing. And the instructions were unclear. They tasted horrible. Freedom is loud.

  • MukizaOctober 20, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    I used them in Iraq, while I was contracted by EODT in the Operation Iraq Freedom as a security specialist. My both ears were damaged by the gunshot sounds. Very disappointing. Am disabled because no one can offer me a job with that challenge. My family has gone through a lot of suffering..

  • AndreSeptember 24, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    I used them between 2009 and 2015

  • RayMay 26, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    I used to work for an airline and used these earplugs for about 5 years. I figured if they were good enough for the military they were good enough for me

  • AndrewJanuary 11, 2020 at 7:54 am

    I served in the army from 2008 till 2014 deployed three times and now receiving 10 percent for hearing loss and 100 percent for PTSD and anxiety I used the 3M earplugs

  • Deiselia RqanneDecember 14, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Used them from two to nine

  • VeronicaOctober 2, 2019 at 7:22 am

    The ear plugs that you people are talking about , all factory employees are using those ear plugs today. It is not just the army people , hear in Canada people are being damaged with this kind of ear plugs. I know because when a marchine blew , I had those plugs in my ears to protect my hearing, that day when the marchine blew , it knocked out my ears on both sides , I suffer with tennise in my [Show More]The ear plugs that you people are talking about , all factory employees are using those ear plugs today. It is not just the army people , hear in Canada people are being damaged with this kind of ear plugs. I know because when a marchine blew , I had those plugs in my ears to protect my hearing, that day when the marchine blew , it knocked out my ears on both sides , I suffer with tennise in my ears daily. I had to get hearing aids for both ears , I lost 18% of my hearing is now gone , all because of the ear plugs that the company supplied to those workers . Workplaces are getting away with In proper hearing plugs, they are playing with people's health .

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