By Robb M. Stewart


3M Co. said U.S. Department of Defense records for more than 175,000 plaintiffs show that the vast majority of claimants in Combat Arms earplug litigation have normal hearing under medically accepted standards, information included in its in Aearo Technologies LLC subsidiary's estimation motion filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis.

The St. Paul, Minn.-based manufacturer of thousands of consumer and industrial products said analysis of Pentagon audiometric data for plaintiffs who filed claims showed that the vast majority of claimants didn't have hearing loss according to standards from leading medical and health organizations, including the American Medical Association and World Health Organizations.

Co-lead counsel for the service-member and veteran plaintiffs, however, said 3M was misrepresenting the Pentagon data. Bryan Aylstock and Chris Seeger said that the data demonstrates that about 85% of plaintiffs suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus, and that of the 13 earlier jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs, 11 under the standards 3M is looking at would be considered unimpaired, even those who wear hearing aids.

In a statement, 3M said that nearly a quarter of the plaintiffs with impairment under either AMA or WHO standards reported their condition in hearing tests before they ever used the Combat Arms earplugs.

It said the analysis doesn't account for other causes of hearing loss that may have affected the percentage of servicemembers with hearing loss, including medical conditions unrelated to noise exposure, non-military noise exposure, hearing loss that predates a service member's use of Combat Arms earplugs, and injuries suffered while not wearing Combat Arms earplugs.

3M said it and Aearo would, if necessary, continue to defend their position in the multi-district litigation, and in pursuing their appeals.

Oral arguments for the appeals of the initial bellwether trials, which include legal and evidentiary issues, are scheduled to be held on May 1.

3M has said that its military earplugs are safe if service members receive proper training on using them. Aearo was the original manufacturer of the earplugs, but 3M acquired the company in 2008. 3M pledged last summer to pay for the settlement of claims negotiated by Aearo in bankruptcy court.

In early February, lawyers for veterans suing 3M over its earplugs asked a federal judge to dismiss the bankruptcy filing of Aearo that would shield the industrial conglomerate from court trials.

In premarket trading, 3M's shares were 2.6% higher after ending Tuesday at $107.74, down 10% so far in 2023.


Write to Robb M. Stewart at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 01, 2023 09:30 ET (14:30 GMT)

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