3M Paying $4.7 Million Per Week in Costs Associated with Earplug Hearing Loss Lawsuits
According to recent bankruptcy court filings, 3M Company has incurred more than $450 million in legal costs associated with defending thousands of earplug hearing loss lawsuits being pursued by veterans, and rather than negotiating settlements acceptable to plaintiffs, the company continued to incur an average of about $4.7 million per week over much of last year, pursuing legal strategies which have recently been described as a brazen abuse of the litigation process.
More than 230,000 U.S. veterans are currently pursuing a product liability lawsuits against 3M and it’s Aearo Technologies subsidiary, after being left with hearing loss or tinnitus following military service, where they were provided 3M Combat Arms Earplugs as standard issue equipment before deployments between 2004 and 2015. Plaintiffs allege the earplugs were sold to the U.S. government with a known design defect, which left veterans without adequate ear protectors during combat and training exercises.
The Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2) were initially developed by Aearo Technologies, which was acquired by 3M Company in 2008 and the entire Aearo hearing protection business was “upstreamed” into 3M, which continued to market and sell the defective earplugs to the U.S. government without disclosing known problems that caused them to commonly fall out of the ear canal.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in the litigation, all lawsuits over hearing loss caused by the military earplugs have been centralized for the past three and a half years before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.
Defense Costs Do Not Include $300 Million in Jury Verdicts Being Appealed
Throughout the litigation, 3M Company has refused to settle hearing loss lawsuits brought by veterans, despite juries awarding at last $366 million in damages at trial. However, those verdicts remain under appeal and have not been paid.
According to a recent Bloomberg News report, 3M Company reported in recent bankruptcy filings that it spent about $47.77 million just on attorneys’ fees and legal costs in the first quarter of 2022, with another $74.5 million in the second quarter, working out to about $4.7 million per week.
Following a series of early bellwether verdicts in the litigation, where different juries painted a very clear picture about the extent of liability the company faces continuing to defend the claims at trial, 3M Company continued to refuse to negotiate an earplug settlement, and instead made the controversial decision last year to place its Aearo Technologies subsidiary into bankruptcy, and decided to pursue a new defense strategy arguing that the multi-billion parent company can not be independently held responsible for hearing loss caused by products it sold and profited from for years.
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After several months of legal wrangling, in August 2022, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey J. Graham rejected a requested by 3M to stay the litigation during the bankruptcy proceedings, indicating that cases against 3M Company will continue while the bankruptcy of Aearo technologies moves forward.
Earplug Hearing Loss Litigation Costs
According to the Bloomberg report, defending against earplug hearing loss lawsuits filed by U.S. military veterans has cost 3M a total of $466 million so far, and estimates that resolving the litigation could cost 3M as much as $7 billion before everything is done. However, plaintiffs lawyers and injured veterans have made it clear that the amount of any 3M earplug settlement will require substantially more funds.
At nearly every step, 3M Company’s expensive defense strategies have failed to turn the tide in the litigation, and actually led to sanctions against the company that prevent it from raising new, contradictory defenses.
Last month, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the federal civil litigation barred 3M Company from arguing that it was not independently responsible for the earplugs made by its Aearo subsidiary, suggesting that a recent shift in defense strategy was done in “bad faith” after nearly four years of failing to raise the argument, and the Court described the effort as a “brazen abuse of the litigation process.”
January 2023 3M Earplug Lawsuit Update
While 3M Company was granted the right to pursue an interlocutory appeal of the recent ruling, the Court has ordered the manufacturer to participate in settlement talks to explore resolution for the claims.
A series of 3M earplug settlement negotiations held in late September were previously described as “worthwhile and productive”, but reports suggest the company is more inclined to incur millions in legal defense costs than make offers to resolve claims.
If 3M Company fails to convince an appeals court to overturn the trial court’s ruling, it is expected to face a rapidly increasing pace of jury trials nationwide throughout 2023 and 2024. Based on the company’s inability to successfully defend the safety of the earplugs before prior juries, estimates suggest that 3M will likely need to pay substantially more than ten billion dollars to settle the earplug lawsuits.
DteJanuary 26, 2023 at 6:15 pm
If they don’t pay soon they will wish that would have mr ceo I will see you soon
MissieJanuary 24, 2023 at 11:16 pm
My son told me that it would be a waste of time to go after 3M because of his Tinnitus. It appears that he was correct in that assumption when this whole thing came to light! I thought it jaded for him to think in this manner. I was wrong, he is a realist who understands that rich crooked people win 99% of the time!
JoshuaJanuary 17, 2023 at 3:00 am
Thank you all for your comments, I'm one of the veterans on this thing, I've been waiting so long for this to end so I can get my life back, I can tell you one thing I'm not taking no chump change offer, and I will fight them till they are bankrupt. They ruined my life, they hurt us all, and now they treat us like street trash and will not settle the men and women who risked their lives for this c[Show More]Thank you all for your comments, I'm one of the veterans on this thing, I've been waiting so long for this to end so I can get my life back, I can tell you one thing I'm not taking no chump change offer, and I will fight them till they are bankrupt. They ruined my life, they hurt us all, and now they treat us like street trash and will not settle the men and women who risked their lives for this countries freedom, the freedom that protects crooked companies like 3m and gave them the freedom to have their business in the first place .I hope God punishes every single one of them.
AshleyJanuary 13, 2023 at 4:25 pm
(THIS IS ALL JUST MY OPINION) You know it's funny that 3M wants to cry that they are losing 4M a week on legal costs, then pay the Veterans a reasonable amount, but we know that they think $4000 is ok, in my opinion you need to add 3 more zeros to start with. Keep in mind they are losing, along with attacking the judges in the MDL, and Bankruptcy with slanderous comments along with fighting a unwi[Show More](THIS IS ALL JUST MY OPINION) You know it's funny that 3M wants to cry that they are losing 4M a week on legal costs, then pay the Veterans a reasonable amount, but we know that they think $4000 is ok, in my opinion you need to add 3 more zeros to start with. Keep in mind they are losing, along with attacking the judges in the MDL, and Bankruptcy with slanderous comments along with fighting a unwinnable battle. Also say they will go bankrupt, well if that is what happens then so be it you have too PAY for your companies greed when knowingly sold or solders faulty ear plugs. Their investors keep believing their lies. also they keep trying to kick the can down the road cus they think they can pay off judges, then have Chambers (who they have VP's on 3M on their boards). Try too influence courts to over turn judges decisions, based off of opinions only because they don't like the outcomes of jury verticts. Lol because the Bellweather trails are supposed to be the base for putting numbers on settling. But you know two out of the Bellweather trails numbers was somewhere around 77.5 mil for one 55M for another, and the lowest somewhere around 1.8M. So you see they know there is 230,000 others left so yeah greedy 3M CEO's can read the writing on the wall. But they still want to fight this unwinnable case. So 3M keeps trying to do what ever the can to not settle. BUT I CANT KEEP TALKING ABOUT HOW CORRUPT MIKE ROMAN AND 3M IS. But the truth is I think it's really funny that MSM refuses to cover the biggest Mass tort case in US history and it is US Veterans who are the victims. SMH So I'm going to leave it with this. At the end of this, when 3M has to go bankrupt, sell all product patents, can't pay out their beloved DIVIDENDS. That they love so much, cus they are dividend kings. Then their stock holders who are believe all Mike's, 3M lies get told That 3M can't do stock buy backs and all their investors, and stock holders loss it all cus they won't tell the Ceo'/Bosses. Enough is enough. 3M you need to settle and pay what is owed. Again in my opinion. When all is said and done. And 3M has no more routes then they will settle. But we will see. I hope it's soon. In my opinion like hopefully by this summer of 2023. It is my opinion there will be teired settlements and the starting amount is going to be somewhere in the M's. To start with that low end, and go up from there depending on factors.
HelenJanuary 12, 2023 at 9:22 am
Then settle already! You claim you'll go bankrupt paying these lawsuits but yet you waste millions trying to fight us. Enough already !
LucasJanuary 12, 2023 at 5:28 am
Why doesn't 3m pay these veterans what is owed instead of wasting more money and time on trying to deal with an issue that isn't going away? I'm sure glad that they lied and made billions of dollars for defective ear protection that didn't protect our service men and women!!!!
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