More than 2220,000 military members have been patiently waiting for 3M to be held accountable for service members’ hearing losses suffered because of the company’s defective earplugs. That wait now draws to a close. A trial date has been set for March 2021, with Judge Casey Rodgers, Chief U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Florida, hearing the lawsuit in Pensacola, Florida.
Aearo Technologies’ Combat Arms earplugs were standard issue for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The devices were hailed as groundbreaking technology that enabled soldiers to protect their hearing while still being able to hear commands amidst war zones.
A federal court judge ruled on Friday, July 24, 2020, that 3M created designs for its Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) without U.S. military input, and so the company cannot use the government contract defense at trial.
In planning their legal strategy, 3M lawyers aimed to invoke the government contract defense, which protects companies from facing liability for defective products that are designed and produced for the federal government.
In August of 2018, the 3M Corporation entered into a $9.1 million settlement with the U.S. government over allegations that it had deliberately sold defective equipment to the Department of Defense. The equipment in question was the Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2, or CAEv2.