Department of Defense Data Reveals No Hearing Loss Among Vast Majority of Plaintiffs in Combat Arms Earplug Litigation

ST. PAUL, Minn., March 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- 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. This information is included in Aearo's estimation motion filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis. Aearo and 3M remain focused on reaching an efficient, equitable, and expeditious resolution to this litigation.

Comprehensive analysis of U.S. Department of Defense audiometric data for plaintiffs who filed claims in the MDL showed that the vast majority of claimants did not have hearing loss according to standards from leading medical and health organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and World Health Organizations (WHO).

  • Under AMA standards, almost 90% of plaintiffs have no hearing impairment.
  • Under WHO and National Institute of Health standards, more than 85% of plaintiffs have normal hearing.
  • 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.

This analysis does not account for other causes of hearing loss that may have impacted the small 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. Every independent, third-party organization that has tested the product, including the Army Research Lab, the Air Force Research lab, NIOSH, and others, has found that it was safe and effective to use.

According to Charles Mullin of Bates White, an expert claims valuation firm: "As part of my work as an expert for the Debtors in the Aearo bankruptcy, I have been asked to evaluate Department of Defense audiogram data for over 175,000 active plaintiffs who have asserted claims in the Combat Arms MDL. I have compared those data to standards published by the World Health Organization and American Medical Association for the evaluation of hearing impairment. My analysis shows that a substantial majority of MDL plaintiffs have normal hearing or no binaural hearing impairment under those standards."

These data reinforce the need for parties to work together to reach a reasonable resolution, based in data and scientific evidence, that does right by veterans entitled to compensation and puts an end to this litigation. If necessary, 3M and Aearo will continue to vigorously 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 important legal and evidentiary issues, are scheduled to be held on May 1, 2023, and could significantly alter the progression and outcome of this litigation.

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