The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that over 200,000 people have joined a mass tort against 3M, alleging that Aearo’s Combat Arms earplugs “were knowingly defective, imperceptibly loosening, and leaking in noise.” The Combat earplugs were acquired by 3M as part of its $1.2 billion purchase of Aearo Technologies in 2008.

According to the Star-Tribune article, in 1999, the US Army requested that Aearo shorten the earplugs so they would fit in a standard-issue military carrying case, but tests performed in 2000 by Aearo “indicated that the shorter earplug didn’t always fit properly—and thus, wasn’t always effective—unless it was inserted in a particular way.”

Related article: 3M Combat Earplug Lawsuits Moved to Florida Federal Court

3M discontinued the dual-action Combat earplugs in 2015.

3M says that “the earplugs were not ‘defectively or negligently designed’ and did not cause injuries.”

Several “bellwether trials” are scheduled to take place in April in a Pensacola, Fla federal court. According to the Star-Tribune, if damages are awarded to the plaintiffs, it could potentially cost 3M hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Source: Star-Tribune