Military veterans urged a judge to reject 3M's attempt to use Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for a subunit it created to shield itself from Combat Arms Earplug version 2 (CAEv2) lawsuits. With over 330,000 cases filed and over 260,000 pending, CAEv2 is the largest multidistrict litigation (MDL) in U.S. history, according to Reuters

The April 19 request was made to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey Graham in Indianapolis, who is expected to make a ruling soon on 3M’s bankruptcy plan. 

3M’s subunit, Aearo Technologies, the original manufacturer of CAEv2, filed for bankruptcy in July 2022. 3M offered a $1 billion trust in Aearo’s restructuring plan in order to resolve the litigation. 

Per Reuters, an attorney representing CAEv2 plaintiffs equated Aearo’s bankruptcy to that of a false alarm. Filing for bankruptcy should be reserved for urgent threats, the plaintiff’s attorney stated, and Aearo was not in need of emergency rescue. 

Even with a $1 billion settlement offer, critics of 3M’s bankruptcy plan accuse 3M of trying to end the lawsuits for pennies on the dollar. The company has been ordered to pay 13 military veterans $300 million in 10 of 16 CAEv2 trials. 

An attorney for Aearo Technologies said at the hearing that according to U.S. law, the house does not have to be on fire in order for a company to file for bankruptcy. 3M’s subunit should be allowed to resolve CAEv2 litigation via bankruptcy settlement, added Aearo’s attorney.  

Judge Graham previously ruled that 3M can’t avoid CAEv2 litigation despite its subunit declaring bankruptcy. 3M filed an expedited appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals over that ruling. If the 5th Circuit upholds Graham’s ruling, Aearo’s bankruptcy will be rejected. 

Plaintiffs in the CAEv2 litigation served in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015, were issued the earplugs during their service time, and have been diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus. More cases are being added to the CAEv2 MDL. If you believe your hearing has been harmed by CAEv2, contact us for a case review.