People in certain professions are at higher risk than others for developing hearing loss because of sound exposure on the job. Military professionals are among those with elevated levels of risk for hearing damage because of their employment.
Both the operation of firearms and proximity to certain forms of equipment, like fighter jets, can create sounds that can easily damage someone’s ability to hear. The different branches of the military all do their best to protect their service members from damage on the job. Unfortunately, some of the protective devices used to prevent hearing loss did not do what service members thought they would.
3M has faced significant consequences due to alleged mass torts
When one person or business organization causes harm to a large number of people, that is a mass tort. The legal response to a mass tort could be either individual lawsuits or a class-action lawsuit against the company.
3M has lost a large individual lawsuit and a lawsuit brought by three plaintiffs already. They also face roughly 230,000 claims by active-duty service members and veterans who suffered hearing damage because of defective earplugs. That claim represents the largest consolidated mass tort ever in the United States.
Those hurt by the defective earplugs claim that the company hid the limits of the devices and failed to warn them about how they could still incur hearing loss while using the earplugs. A recent ruling by a federal jury upheld more than $1 million in damages for a veteran who developed tinnitus because of the defective earplugs.
Others injured by 3M earplugs or similar defective products can potentially hold the manufacturer responsible for the injuries those products caused.