100 veterans in Waco sue 3M, tens of thousands more expected

Elizabeth Howe
February 19, 2019 - 9:59 am

Photo courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

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More than 100 veterans in Waco, Texas have filed lawsuits against 3M claiming that faulty ear plugs caused hearing loss and related medical issues — and the attorneys involved believe there could be tens of thousands more lawsuits. 

3M settled a federal lawsuit in July for $9.1 million to resolve the allegations that it knowingly supplied the military with defective ear plugs — but the company did not admit liability in the settlement. Now, veterans like the 100 in Waco are seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of wages and earning capacity. 

RELATED: 3M: $9m fine for allegedly selling faulty ear plugs to the military

“Unfortunately, too often our service members are taken advantage of by individuals and entities that care more about making money than making a safe and reliable product,” Waco attorney Robert Stem told Waco Tribune-Herald. “Our goal is to right this injustice so that it never happens again.”

Robert Stem and fellow Waco attorney Mo Aziz are representing 1,000 veterans, and they believe tens of thousands more will file similar lawsuits nationally.

“In fact, as of Fiscal Year 2017, there were over 1.6 million veterans service connected for tinnitus,” said James Henry, a research career scientist at VA Portland Healthcare System. “Around 80 percent aren’t particularly bothered by it, they might ignore it, whereas the other 20 percent are irritated to the point that they need clinical services.”

The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation set a hearing for March 28 in Washington, D.C. to determine if the suits will be consolidated. Veterans who believe they are eligible for compensation can join the lawsuit here

RELATED: Hearing loss from faulty 3M ear plugs? Join the lawsuit

3M has not responded to requests for interviews but did issue a statement. 

“3M has great respect for the brave men and women who protect us around the world,” the company said in the statement. “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. We are not commenting on specific litigation matters at this time.”

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