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With all their defects, the 3M Combat Arms version 2 earplugs (CAEv2) were not recalled voluntarily or by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite the problems with the earplugs’ ability to adequately protect military personnel, neither 3M nor the FDA issued an official recall.
Many who suffered permanent hearing loss because of the faulty design of the earplugs are pursuing legal action to seek compensation for their damages. Contact a 3M earplug hearing loss lawsuit lawyer today, or continue reading to learn more.
Why Companies Do and Do Not Recall Products
When a manufacturer has good reason to believe that its product presents a risk of injury or otherwise threatens the public’s health or well-being, it usually issues a voluntary recall of the product. Most commonly, recalls are tied to safety concerns about manufacturing defects.
The problem with issuing a recall is that this action can negatively impact the manufacturer’s stock. Furthermore, recalls can lead to reduced sales of the manufacturer’s other products as customers become aware of the dangers the recalled product presents.
For a company like 3M, which manufactures and sells a broad range of products, a drop in trust could prove damaging across product lines.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can issue a recall order under 21 CFR Part 810 if a manufacturer fails to recall a dangerous product voluntarily. Earplugs are considered medical devices and fall under the FDA’s domain, even though they do not need to be FDA-approved.
Why a Company Would Discontinue a Product Instead
There is little public information or statements about 3M’s decision to discontinue its CAEv2 line or the timing as it relates to the legal problems ahead for the manufacturer.
What we do know is that 3M discontinued the CAEv2 in 2015, approximately one year before the government’s filing legal action against 3M in response to a whistleblower exposing the earplugs’ defects and the manufacturer’s fraudulent activities involving the marketing and sales of the devices to the government.
3M’S Response to the Discontinuation of the CAEV2
CBS News ran coverage of the lawsuit in which the government sued 3M for its CAEv2 products, which military personnel had been using on the battlefield and in training from 2003 to 2015.
3M issued the following statement:
“3M has great respect for the brave men and women who protect us around the world. We have a long history of serving the U.S. military, and we continue to sell products, including safety products, to help our troops and support their missions.”
3M Denies Wrongdoing
While seemingly positive, the recent $9.1 million settlement reached by 3M lacked an admission of wrongdoing on the company’s part. 3M has firmly denied any design defects in their product and stated their intention to defend themselves against the allegations.
In their explanation for agreeing to settle the matter, 3M cited the desire to avoid further disruption to their business and spare their employees from the burdens of prolonged investigations and litigation.
They emphasized that the resolution should not be interpreted as an admission of liability but as a commitment to continue providing high-quality personal safety equipment to their customers. It remains unclear which earplugs the military currently employs, as the Department of Justice has not disclosed this information.
The Purpose of Product Recalls
Product recalls are an important tool manufacturers use to address safety concerns and mitigate potential consumer harm. While recalls can help minimize damages and protect the public, they do not automatically prevent liability claims.
A product recall is primarily a proactive step manufacturers take to demonstrate their commitment to consumer safety and fulfill their legal obligations.
A recall serves as a warning to consumers about the potential risks associated with a specific product. It allows consumers to take necessary actions, such as returning or repairing the recalled item, to minimize their exposure to harm.
However, a recall does not absolve the manufacturer of potential liability for injuries or damages caused by the defective product. It is important to understand that a product recall is not a substitute for legal responsibility. Manufacturers can still be liable for injuries or damages caused by their products, regardless of whether they initiate a recall.
Past and Ongoing 3M Earplug Lawsuits
Thousands of military service members and veterans have filed lawsuits against 3M, alleging that the company’s earplugs were flawed and resulted in hearing damage from exposure to loud sounds during military operations and training exercises. As of June 2023, many of these 3M earplug lawsuit claims remain unresolved.
Over the past few years, 16 “bellwether” cases, which serve as test trials, have been conducted, with more in favor of plaintiffs. Ten cases have favored the plaintiffs, while six have favored the defense.
Although the plaintiffs have found success in most instances, the defense has achieved enough victories to maintain confidence in its position, leaving both sides with limited progress toward settlement negotiations.
To prevent the overwhelming influx of thousands of defective earplug lawsuits from burdening the judicial system, the federal district judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation (MDL) for 3M combat earplug product liability has directed the involved parties to engage in mediation. The goal is facilitating a settlement and finding a resolution outside of prolonged litigation.
Join Other Veterans in Suing 3M for Your Combat Earplug Injuries
The fact that 3M discontinued the CAEv2 does not affect its liability for injuries resulting from hearing protection devices. Countless veterans have likely sustained permanent hearing loss after using these defective devices. Thousands have already filed lawsuits to recover compensation for their injuries.
The legal team at Zanes Law will do everything from A to Z to fight for your right to receive compensation in a defective earplug lawsuit. Call us today or complete the online contact form for a free case evaluation.