Tom Pirtle Leads Nation’s First Trial Against Combat Arms Earplug Maker, 3M
Laminack, Pirtle & Martines founding partner Tom Pirtle is serving as lead trial counsel litigating the first nationwide case against 3M, the manufacturer of the Combat Arms Earplug.
Pirtle, who is currently serving on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for MDL No. 2885, In re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, and a team of nationally recognized trial lawyers began jury selection on March 29th in what is expected to be a four-week trial in Pensacola, Florida.
The Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplug, manufactured by 3M, were designed for use in combat by military personnel. The earplugs were marketed as having the ability to provide users with two different levels of auditory protection from a single set of earplugs. One side protected from impulse noises, such as explosions, while still allowing the wearer to hear certain softer sounds such as voice commands. The other side protected from all sounds. Despite these claims, individuals from all across the country have come forward alleging that the earplugs did not perform as intended and that they now suffer from permanent hearing loss, ear damage, tinnitus or in some cases deafness. To date, more than 230,000 claims have been brought in this litigation.
The 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs were first issued to military personnel in 2003 and continued to be distributed until 2015. This means that for over 12 years thousands of military servicemen and servicewomen were issued defective earplugs as a means of auditory protection from the damaging noises of combat. In 2018 3M reached a settlement with the U.S. Government in response to allegations that 3M knowingly distributed these faulty earplugs despite their knowledge of the potential for their earplugs to loosen within the ear, rendering them defective. In the settlement, 3M agreed to pay the U.S. Government $9.1 million, but 3M have maintained that they were not aware their earplugs were flawed and did not lie or conceal risk regarding the safety of their product.