Expert Witnesses: How They Can Help Your Defective Drug Claim

testifying expert

Expert witnesses are individuals who have special knowledge in a particular field relevant to your case. Expert witnesses can provide important pieces of evidence through facts and experience, providing testimony on your behalf.

In the case of a defective drug claim, an expert witness can prove to be essential to proving the validity of your case. Your attorney can help you to secure the aid of these individuals.

At Hotze Runkle PLLC, we understand that the victims of defective drugs are often left in pain and confusion. Without a clear understanding of their legal rights and without much guidance on what steps they need to take next to protect themselves, individuals suffering from a defective product can face a world of problems.

But there is hope. 

If you have suffered from permanent, excessive tearing as a result of being treated with the chemotherapy drug, Taxotere, know that you do have legal options. The attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC will help you to develop the strongest claim possible alongside a supporting cast of expert witnesses, medical experts, investigators, researchers, and other legal personnel to secure the results you deserve.  

What Is an Expert Witness? 

Expert witnesses (also known as judicial experts) are witnesses who, by skill, training, education, or experience, have vital expertise and key knowledge that is beyond what a layperson might have.

In court, they are accepted as having an expert opinion that carries weight. An expert witness can deliver expert evidence using all the knowledge from their given field. An opinion from an expert witness can be used to demonstrate wrongdoing in an accident, the medical facts of a given defective drug, or can provide research highlighting how a given product was improperly designed or manufactured.

When the time comes to prove your damages, expert witnesses can include grief counselors, psychologists, forensic accountants, and psychiatrists. 

Expert Witnesses Vs. Testifying Experts

There are two wide categorizations of witnesses – testifying experts and consulting witnesses.  A consulting witness can help explain the facts of a case. However, these individuals generally do not testify in court – unless they are recruited to do so. Instead, consulting experts help your legal team to better understand facts regarding the given defective product/drug, how it works, and industry-related standards regarding manufacturing. They can, however, assist your lawyer in securing a qualifying expert witness.  

On the other hand, an expert witness does provide testimony in front of a judge or jury. 

What Are Some Types of Testifying Experts? 

For defective drug claims, the following types of expert witnesses may be able to provide support in proving your claim: 

  • Accident Reconstruction Expert — An accident reconstructionist can piece together the specifics of an event to determine a timeline.
  • Medical Expert — This person will be able to speak about the nature of a plaintiff’s injuries. This will usually provide the necessary evidence against the defendant. 
  • Engineering Expert — An engineering expert can explain what happened and why when regarding a defective medical device or other product. 
  • Mental Health Expert —  A mental health expert can evaluate the mental state of the plaintiff. Not only that, they can help determine how the injury affected the plaintiff’s state of mind. This can naturally be used to calculate pain and suffering based damages.
  • Financial Expert — A financial expert can calculate how much you’re owed in the event of loss of finances as a result of hospital stays and recovery. 
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Expert — If you were injured as the result of your defective drug use, there are usually questions regarding your ability to be gainfully employed. This type of expert can give the necessary insights into any and possibly all future work prospects.

Get In Touch With Trustworthy Taxotere Lawsuit Attorneys

Breast cancer patients have relied on docetaxel infusions to keep cancer cells from replicating, but unfortunately, docetaxel medications such as Taxotere can have a negative effect on your health. 

If you are suffering from permanent and excessive tearing as a result of being treated with Taxotere, you should seek out the unmatched legal experience of the Taxotere lawsuit attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC. Our law firm – in collaboration with expert witnesses – can help to develop a winning case for you.  

For more information and a FREE case review, contact the Taxotere lawsuit attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC today by calling (512) 476-7771.


What Kind of Compensation Can I Claim in My Product Liability Lawsuit?

taxotere imageSometimes, our faith in companies isn’t rewarded. A defect that the manufacturer failed to mention or a vicious round of side effects that weren’t printed on the warning label could pop up and injury you or your loved ones without warning.

If you were to find yourself the victim of either of those circumstances, who would you contact for help? More importantly, how are you going to cover all of these expenses that you have incurred through no fault of your own? You’re not alone, and help is only a phone call away.

Our experienced Texas product liability attorneys at Hotze Runkle PLLC have spent years fighting the makers of Taxotere, Sanofi-Aventis, who put profits over people, and now, they want to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

What Kind of Compensation is Applicable in Product Liability?

In product liability, individuals injured by a defective product can qualify for two types of compensation.

  1. Economic Losses
  2. Non-Economic Losses

With economic losses, an individual that has filed a product liability claim can seek out compensation to cover monetary losses that come from:

  • Medical Bills – Bills that are owed to hospitals, doctors, physical therapists, anesthetists, and pharmacies.
  • Cost of Disability – A change in lifestyle brought about by the injury you sustained because of a defective product (e.g. in-home nursing costs, costs associated with home and vehicle renovation for those that were rendered immobile).
  • Lost Wages, Earning Capacity, or Profits – Missed work can lead to lost wages, and time away from your business because of injury can lead to lost profits. At the same time, if your injury limits you from positions that help you earn more money in the future, seeking compensation can help you cover living expenses.
  • Property Damage and Repair – If the defective product causes the destruction of property, you may be able to seek compensation to cover repairs.

Non-economic losses, however, cover general or non-monetary losses that are harder to determine any specific value. This usually consists of:

  • Pain and Suffering – Calculating pain and suffering depends on many different factors and can vary from case to case. However, this type of compensation generally covers the pain, anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of Consortium – A defective product injury can damage much more than the body. Companionships, emotional support, sexual relationships, and even a loss of affection are all eligible damages that may warrant compensation.

Product Liability and Recent Taxotere Litigations

Product liability lawsuits are dependent on state law, and a claim must declare negligence, a breach of warranty, or severe liability in order to qualify in civil court. Take, for instance, the ongoing lawsuits regarding Taxotere. Many negative side effects affected users of this chemotherapy drug, such as:  

  •  Hair loss
  • Anemia 
  • Vomiting 
  • Fatigue

But an unexpected side effect in patients that was discovered was permanent tearing. Permanent tearing has profoundly affected individuals who have undergone Taxotere treatment for breast, prostate, lung, stomach, neck and head cancers.  

Attorneys nationwide, including our product liability attorneys at Hotze Runkle PLLC, have fought for those taken advantage of corporations putting profits over people.

Contact the Texas product liability attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC at (877) 919-0830 to represent you in your Taxotere lawsuit today.

What Users of Taxotere Should Know About Epiphora (Tearing)

The product liability lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC are leading the way when it comes to fighting for the rights of breast cancer patients and survivors who have been hurt by the chemotherapy drug, Taxotere.

Taxotere has been shown to cause patients’ tear ducts to close, leading to permanent tearing that cannot be reversed except for intrusive surgery. When not properly treated, excessive tearing – also known as epiphora – can lead to serious eye-related health issues that can cause individuals plenty of pain and suffering.

But there is hope. You do NOT have to accept the negligent actions of the pharmaceutical company that has harmed you. Our committed team of Taxotere lawsuit attorneys at Hotze Runkle PLLC are ready to help you take a stand against those who harmed you.

What Is Epiphora? 

Epiphora, or excessive tearing, is a condition in which the sufferer deals with an overflow of tears as the result of blocked tear ducts. While tears are important to maintain eye health and vision, in excess, they can obscure your vision and cause additional damages including infection, inflammatory disorder, and lead to the need for invasive surgery.

These additional issues arise when the tears become stagnant in the tear drainage system. Stagnant tears in the tear sac greatly increase the risk of developing an infection.

Common Symptoms of Epiphora (Watery Eyes)

When chemotherapy drugs such as Taxotere completely clog the tear ducts, the excessive tears will begin to spill out over the eyelids as a result of having nowhere else to go. A complete block can result in a severe overflow.

If you are undergoing or have completed chemotherapy treatment and are dealing with watery eyes caused by blocked tear ducts, please seek immediate medical attention if you suffer from any of the following symptoms:

  • Sharp pain around the eyes
  • Enlarged blood vessels
  • Redness 
  • Soreness
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Symptoms continue to worsen rather than improve

How to Get Diagnosed

Your local physician or eye specialist (ophthalmologist) will examine your eyes and both upper and lower eyelids to find the cause of the epiphora. Examinations will include:

  • Testing blood vessels behind your eye.
  • Eye pressure
  • Inspection of sinus cavities
  • Evaluation of your medical history

If you have any discharge from your eye, it may be tested to find out if you have any sort of bacterial infection. 

Treatment Options for Excessive Tearing

Treatment for excessive tearing depends on the severity of the case. In certain instances, epiphora can be treated with antibiotics. However, for many individuals dealing with permanent tearing as a result of chemotherapy treatment, the only option may be a surgical procedure known as 

dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR).

Unfortunately, DCR can lead to additional health problems including migration of the Jones tube used to reopen the tear duct, scarring, or post-surgery infections.

If you have suffered permanent tearing after undergoing chemotherapy treatment, know that there is a team of attorneys dedicated to righting the wrongs done against you. Do not hesitate to contact the Taxotere lawsuit attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC at (877) 919-0830 if you or a loved one are suffering from excessive tearing as the result of being treated with a chemotherapy drug such as Taxotere.

An Overview of Taxotere and Excessive Tearing

Chemotherapy treatment is meant to cure individuals of cancer, prolong life, or is used for palliative care.

Unfortunately, the chemotherapy drugs used during treatment can also have side effects of their own that last long after treatment has ended. These side effects can be permanent, leading to serious quality of life issues that have nothing to do with the original cancer.

One chemotherapy drug in particular – Taxotere (docetaxel) – which is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, currently has 8,000 pending lawsuits, particularly among breast cancer survivors. Plaintiffs are filing lawsuits for false marketing and the company’s role in downplaying the severity of the drug’s side effects. One of the major side effects of Taxotere is watery eyes (epiphora) caused by lacrimal duct obstruction (LDO) and keratoconjunctivitis (dry eye syndrome) which has lead to issues such as constant itchiness, swollen eyelids and increased eye “floaters.”

If you or a loved one is fighting against excessive tearing caused by a chemotherapy drug, contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today at (877) 919-0830 for a consultation.

What is Taxotere?

Taxotere is an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug used to treat a variety of cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, neck cancer, stomach cancer and head cancer. The drug was first approved twenty years ago for metastatic breast cancer and has since affected thousands of cancer patients with its long-term side effects, particularly epiphora (watery eyes), but also others such as alopecia (permanent hair loss).

These side effects can cause irreparable harm to an individual’s quality of life including affecting their mental health.

About Sanofi-Aventis: The Manufacturer Behind Taxotere (Docetaxel)

Sanofi S.A. is a French multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France, and the world’s fifth-largest by prescription sales. The company merged with Aventis in 2004.

Despite marketing Taxotere since 1998, it wasn’t until 2014 that Sanofi and the FDA released a full description of warnings and adverse reactions for patients who used specific doses of the drug. This information surely would have made cancer patients think twice about choosing this particular chemotherapy drug, if the information had been available to them earlier.

Health Complications Caused by Taxotere

Because Sanofi-Aventis failed to provide adequate warning about Taxotere’s side effects, particularly epiphora (excessive tearing), thousands of cancer patients have suffered long-term and permanent damages even after they successfully defeated their cancer.

Some of the specific eye-related issues chemotherapy drugs such as Taxotere cause include:

  • Excessive tearing (epiphora)
  • Blurred or dulled vision
  • Clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Loss of areas of vision (cystoid macular edema)
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye infections
  • Dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
  • Swollen eyelids

Epiphora can affect patients in two primary ways: either by an overproduction of tears and mucus or by preventing the proper draining of tears through the lacrimal apparatus. The lacrimal apparatus is the system of ducts and sacs that create the tears and then moves them out through the nasal cavity.

The obstruction of these ducts can occur as a result of infection, an inflammatory disorder, physical trauma, or surgery. In some cases, bacteria can also cause infection and blockage of these ducts.

When the tear ducts are blocked, tears begin to build up in the tear sac and can increase the risk of infection that can lead to inflammation next to the eye.

Treatment for excessive tearing depends on the severity of the problem as well as the cause. One of the most commonly recommended treatments is a surgical procedure known as

dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). However, this treatment can cause health issues as well including scarring, post-surgery infections, or Jones tubes – which are used to facilitate the flow of tears from the eyes to the nose – may migrate leading to a need for additional surgery.

About the DCR Procedure

The consequences of Taxotere’s unadvertised side effects ranged from constant physical pain and discomfort (itchiness, swelling) to a reduction in a victim’s quality of life due to psychological or emotional damage (e.g., caused by alopecia or permanent hair loss).

Excessive tearing (epiphora), in particular, can lead to difficulty reading, driving, issues with eyesight, and can negatively affect a patient’s quality of life. Treatment of this side effect depends on how severe the problem is. In mild cases, the doctor may just monitor the patient’s health to ensure that no major damage is caused. In severe cases, surgery may be encouraged.

The surgical procedure to create a new channel from the tear sac to the inside of the nose is known as dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). This surgery is intended to allow the tears to bypass the blocked duct and work correctly.

However, there are a number of risks associated with the DCR procedure including:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Prominent facial scars
  • Infection
  • Displaced stent that can lead to other eye-related issues
  • Abnormally fused tissue in the nose
  • Non-effective procedure
  • Blindness may occur with damage to the infraorbital vessels or optic nerve

These risks differ according to things such as age, health conditions, and the reasons for the procedure.

FAQs About Excessive Tearing Caused by Chemotherapy Drugs

1. Who are the victims of excessive tearing caused by chemotherapy drugs?

Anyone who has suffered long-term and permanent side effects or damage such as physical pain and discomfort, or even emotional or psychological distress as a result of chemotherapy drug treatment, has a case for product liability against the manufacturer.

Generally speaking, however, excessive tearing has profoundly affected breast cancer survivors. Individuals who have undergone chemotherapy treatment for prostate, lung, stomach, neck and head cancer may also be susceptible to excessive tearing.

2. Do I have a successful claim against the company that hurt me?

If your life, physical or mental health has been negatively affected, then the short answer is yes — you may have a case. Product liability lawyers can review your medical records and help you determine whether you are one of the thousands of cancer patients who have fallen victim to the permanent and long-term chemotherapy drug side effects that you never ‘signed up’ for.

3. Should I sue a chemotherapy drug manufacturer if my cancer was successfully treated?

Sometimes cancer patients are hesitant to “complain” about side effects either because they accept them as normal consequences of treatment or they are so grateful to beat cancer that they minimize post-cancer side effects. Going through chemotherapy does not mean you have to bear or accept any subsequent side effects if the pharmaceutical company has failed to adequately inform or warn you, or has deliberately been guilty of false marketing or downplaying the severity of side effects.

The battle of a cancer survivor is a life-changing experience. Life after chemotherapy should be long and full of happiness. If Taxotere or another chemotherapy drug has destroyed, reduced or damaged this happiness, then you have a legal right to hold the pharmaceutical company responsible for your pain.

Hotze Runkle PLLC has fought hard to represent people who have suffered permanent side effects as a result of corporations putting profits over people. The attorneys at Hotze Runkle PLLC continues to hold these corporations like Sanofi-Aventis responsible for negligence, false marketing, and downplaying the severity of their chemotherapy drug’s side effects.

Do not hesitate to contact the product liability lawyers of Hotze Runkle PLLC at (877) 919-0830 if you or a loved one are suffering from excessive tearing as the result of being treated with a chemotherapy drug such as Taxotere.

3M Involved in Many Other Lawsuits

Recently, 3M, a government contractor and combat earplug manufacturer, came under heavy scrutiny when members of the U.S military issued complaints of hearing impairment and loss due to the company’s defective product. Unfortunately, for many of our men and women in uniform from 2003 through 2015, it was already too late.

Even though the company is set to pay $9.1 million to the U.S. military, they haven’t admitted to any wrongdoing, disregarding any liability for the pain and suffering they have caused to military members. Sadly, this isn’t the only lawsuit targeted at the company.

If you or someone you love was deployed between 2003 and 2015 and have suffered from hearing impairment or loss, the 3M defective earplug lawsuit lawyers of Hotze Runkle PLLC will fight to get the compensation you deserve.

The PFAS Lawsuit

A 3M environmental specialist accused company officials in a resignation letter, stating the company was corrupt and more concerned with markets, legal defensibility, and image over safety when it came to Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Documents were obtained from the Minnesota Attorney General’s office which outlines 3M’s own research showing that PFAS compounds were not breaking down in the environment and were having negative health effects in laboratory rats and other animals.

Also, the blood of employees—and the public—had become infected with these compounds. As this issue came into the light the company, 3M continued to sell PFAS compounds for use in products worldwide.

Some of the problematic products identified were:

  • Scotch Guard stain protection   
  • Teflon coating on cookware     
  • Water resistant shoes/clothing    
  • Sandwich wrapping paper     
  • Microwave popcorn bags    
  • Aqueous firefighting foam

Lori Swanson, a Minnesota Attorney General at the time, gained access to internal documents from the Minnesota-based company after suing 3M in 2010 over the environmental contamination; the company just settled the lawsuit last year for $850 million.

Being exposed to a large amount of PFAS can cause a lot of damage to your body such as:

  • developmental effects in infants
  • increase a woman’s blood pressure during pregnancy     
  • lower infant birth weights     
  • interfere with the body’s natural hormones     
  • increase cholesterol levels      
  • affect the immune system      
  • increase the risk of cancer
  • lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant

The Defective Disposable Respirator Lawsuit

At the turn of the 21st century, 3M was wrapped into another lawsuit involving asbestos. The lawsuit claims that the company had marketed and sold a defective disposable respirator. The masks did not provide the protection that the company claimed, including filtering tiny asbestos particles. As a result, those that wore the respirators while working with asbestos materials have developed asbestos-related diseases.

When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they lodge deep within the lungs. Once in place, asbestos fibers can cause inflammation, scarring, and serious asbestos-related diseases that take many years to develop, such as:

Pleural plaques

  • areas of white, smooth, raised scar tissue on the outer lining of the lung, internal chest wall, and diaphragm
  • often the earliest sign of exposure to asbestos
  • not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos develops plaques due to differences in their immune system


  • a chronic condition caused by inflammation or scarring in the lungs
  • causes shortness of breath, coughing, and permanent lung damage
  • caused by heavy, prolonged exposure to asbestos

Lung cancer

  • cancerous tumors that mainly occur in the lining of the tubes leading into the lungs, the smaller airways, or the middle of the lungs


  • a rare form of cancer of the tissue that lines the body cavities, particularly the chest and abdominal cavities

3M has put profit over the people multiple times, and again they have gone too far.

Large companies like 3M may feel like they can get away with their negligent business practices, but this time, they have tried to take advantage of those that fight for their freedoms. The 3M defective earplug lawsuit attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC want to bring 3M to justice again by helping our members in the service fight for their deserved compensation in civil court.

Contact us at (512) 476-7771 or toll free (877) 919-0830 to set up your FREE legal consultation with our 3M defective earplug lawsuit attorneys today

Proving Liability in a 3M Defective Earplugs Lawsuit

For as long as we have been a country, our brave men and women in uniform have placed their trust in the manufacturers that provide them the adequate protection and equipment they need to minimize harm or to improve their combat prowess.

Unfortunately, this noble deed can attract bad faith actors looking to make a quick buck at the expense of the user, and the recent lawsuits taken against 3M suggest just that.

At Hotze Runkle PLLC, we take great umbrage with those that would take advantage of the selfless members of our military, and if you or someone you love has fallen victim to 3M’s negligent business practices, you need strong representation to help you get the monetary compensation that is owed to you.

The Problem With 3M and Their Defective Combat Earplugs

Between 2003 and 2015, 3M manufactured and issued out the Dual-Ended Combat Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) to the United States Military. These earplugs were designed to block out noise at 22 decibels while still allowing the user to hear.

That is, the earplugs were supposed to do that. They may have been originally designed with that in mind, but the earplugs were too short to place in and stay within the ear canal. To make matters worse, instead of redesigning the earplug to fit properly and filter out ear-damaging sound, 3M simply folded back a bit of the earplug in an ineffective attempt to mitigate loud sounds. This caused them to fall out without the user realizing it, exacerbating the problem.

3M allegedly sold their equipment with knowledge of the defects and the damage that they could cause. 3M also manipulated test results, provided false data, and failed to provide adequate instructions on how to use them.

As a result, many members of the military developed hearing impairment issues like tinnitus or hearing loss and launched lawsuit after lawsuit at the defective earplug manufacturer.

Situations Where the Combat Earplugs Were Needed to Avoid Hearing Impairment

Since 2015, most of the earplug users in the military between 2003 and 2015 have suffered from hearing impairment issues resulting from dangerous levels of military-specific noises such as:

  • Gun fire
  • Jet engines
  • Blasts
  • Roadside bombs
  • Other battlefield experiences

Because of 3M’s desire to cut corners in an effort to maximize profits, most of the military members using the combat earplugs have become sensitive to sound, have difficulty hearing, developed Tinnitus—a constant ringing in the ears—or have lost their hearing completely.

Determining Liability in a 3M Defective Earplugs Lawsuit

In a product liability case, it is the duty of an experienced 3M lawsuit lawyer to determine if—and how—the manufacturer, supplier, retailer, or any other entity in the distribution chain acted in a negligent, malicious, or fraudulent manner. To do so, you product liability lawyer must collect compelling evidence that proves the product was defective and at fault.

Most of the evidence your lawyer can use consists of:

  • The product’s label
  • The product’s warranty
  • The product’s instructions
  • Victim statements
  • Incident/Injury reports
  • Witness testimony
  • Expert testimony
  • Legal research

If you or someone you know has suffered any type of injuries as a result of 3M combat earplugs, you can file a claim with the Austin 3M defective earplugs lawsuit lawyers of Hotze Runkle PLLC to seek out your deserved compensation.  

Although product liability law varies from state to state, it generally requires you prove the following items in your claim:

  • You were injured or suffered loss  If you want to file a claim, you must have sustained any type of injury from the defective product. Without an actual injury or loss, you may not qualify for a product liability claim.
  • The product is defective – If you purchased a defective item unknowingly, you can file a product liability claim. Manufacturers have a duty to inform consumers of the risks involved with their product, and if they negligently or fraudulently withhold any of that information for the sake of sales, you may have a strong claim.
  • The product has a manufacturer error – In this circumstance, you must prove that the product has defective due to an error in the manufacturing process. Proving this can be easy or difficult, depending on the product. In the case of the combat earplugs, 3M manipulated the earplug to fold back, saving them from having to redesign the earplug to fit snugly within the ear canal.
  • There was a failure to warn consumers – Depending on the product and what it is used for, the warning labels must list the dangers that particular product contains. 3M gave no warning about their defective earplugs, thus putting a lot of individuals at risk of hearing impairment or loss.

The 3M defective earplugs lawsuit lawyers of Hotze Runkle PLLC want to help veterans and other active members of the military get the respect and dignity they deserve.

If you or someone you know was in the military between 2003 to 2015 and are suffering from any type of hearing impairment, loss, or tinnitus due to the defective 3M combat earplugs, contact us at (512) 476-7771 or toll free (877) 919-0830 to set up your no-obligation, FREE legal consultation today.

About Veterans Disability Compensation for Hearing Loss

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Hearing loss affects more than 28 million Americans, including more than half of those over age 75. Hearing problems—including tinnitus, which is a ringing, buzzing, or other type of noise that originates in the head—are by far the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans.”

Unfortunately, companies like 3M are only making matters worse. This negligent company sold defective combat earplugs to the U.S. Military, which in turn provided these faulty devices to military personnel in active warzones across the globe. It’s estimated that over 1.5 million soldiers could be facing hearing loss issues as a direct result of these defective earplugs.

While 3M was forced to pay $9.1 million back in restitution, military vets are essentially left to fend for themselves.

But they are not alone.

The 3M defective combat earplug lawsuit attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC are dedicated to providing service members the legal counsel and care they deserve. We can help you to better understand your legal options as well as provide information on securing additional support from Veterans Disability Compensation.

About VA Disability for Hearing Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Veterans were 30% more likely to have severe hearing impairment than non-veterans after adjusting for age and current occupation, and veterans who served in the United States or overseas during September 2001 through March 2010, the era of overseas contingency operations (including Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom), were four times more likely than non-veterans to have severe hearing impairment.”

Some elements that can lead to severe hearing impairment include:

  • Gunfire
  • Heavy equipment
  • Jet engines
  • Machinery
  • Blasts
  • Roadside bombs
  • Training
  • Battlefield experiences

In order to receive service-connected disability compensation for your hearing loss, you will have to provide evidence to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of your injuries. The evidence needed to prove your hearing loss includes:

  • A hearing exam by a licensed audiologist who can administer both a Maryland CNC test and a pure tone audiometric test.
  • Evidence of an event that contributed to your hearing loss while you were in the military. For those suffering from hearing loss as a result of 3M defective earplugs, wartime records will prove to be strong evidence.
  • An official medical opinion linking your in-service exposure to your hearing loss.

The amount you receive in VA benefits depends on your disability rating. This rating is based on the severity of your condition. The more your hearing loss limits you, the higher your disability rating.

The VA rates hearing loss is on a scale of 0 to 100%.

For 2019, the VA hearing loss disability compensation rates are:

Hearing Loss                                                Monthly VA

Disability                                                     Disability

         Rating                                                     Compensation

0%                                                        $0 per month

   10%                                                      $140 per month

    20%                                                      $277 per month

    30%                                                      $429 per month

   40%                                                      $618 per month

   50%                                                      $879 per month

     60%                                                      $1,114 per month

      70%                                                      $1,404 per month

      80%                                                      $1,632 per month

     90%                                                      $1,834 per month

     100%                                                       $3,057 per month

VA disability is not your only option, however. You can also seek out restitution from the company liable for your injuries – 3M.

Holding 3M Accountable

The product liability lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC are seeking military veterans and personnel who suffered hearing loss and other injuries as a result of 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs.

In order to file a claim and hold 3M accountable, we will need to prove that:

  • You served in the U.S. military between 2003 through 2015.
  • You used military issued 3M combat earplugs during your time in the service.
  • You have medically documented hearing loss or tinnitus.
  • You are NOT suffering from some other syndrome, disease, or illness that is causing your hearing loss.

Securing this evidence is the first step in filing a claim against 3M. Our national product liability lawyers will then work diligently to help you recover damages for:

  • Past and present medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental or emotional trauma
  • Punitive damages (if this applies)

Hotze Runkle PLLC has the skills, experience, and determination to bring 3M to justice. We are not afraid to take corporations like them to court and defend your rights.

Contact us right now at (512) 476-7771 or (877) 919-0830 for a FREE case evaluation.

About Class Action Lawsuits and 3M Defective Earplugs

If you ever stay up late at night watching television, you have probably seen a couple of infomercials made by law firms asking if you have been affected by a certain party or product. Those type of infomercials target specific individuals with the intent of encouraging them to file a lawsuit against the party that harmed them.

These types of lawsuits are known as Class Action Lawsuits and can provide several benefits to individuals looking to file a claim.

Your team here at Hotze Runkle PLLC has been following the 3M defective earplugs situation and it appears that the growth of the number of cases may turn into a class action lawsuit. Please consider the following information.  

About Class Action Lawsuits

In a class action lawsuit, a large number of people from all over the nation are seeking recovery from a product, company, or entity that has caused them damages. This is referred to as commonality.

While the claims do need to be similar, they do not necessarily need to be identical. The similarity in facts allows for the litigation process to work more efficiently versus each case being handled individually.

For a plaintiff, it can be a lot more cost effective and also provide them the necessary means to seek our compensation. Otherwise, it might be too challenging for the individual to take the defendant to court and secure compensation on their own.

In a class action lawsuit, resources are consolidated, allowing for attorneys, evidence, witnesses, and other aspects of litigation to be used by those participating in the claim. When a class action lawsuit is permitted by a court, a representative plaintiff leads the process. These individuals are intended to adequately represent the claims and circumstances of the entire class without being able to take advantage of their position.

As of the present time, the 3M defective earplugs case appears to be turning into a class action lawsuit or mass tort. Individuals interested in participating in the class action lawsuit may have to “opt-in.”

The Benefits of Class Action Lawsuits

So now that you are more aware of how a class action lawsuit works, you might be wondering how you might benefit.

Several of the advantages of a class action lawsuit include:

  • It is financially more feasible for a plaintiff to participate in a class action lawsuit versus filing a claim on their own. Cost of litigation can be incredibly high for single individuals but combining all these claims makes it much more reasonably affordable for those who have suffered damages.  
  • There is a greater level of uniformity which allow the claims to be resolved in a much more efficient manner. Rather than hundreds (or even thousands) of cases clogging up the courts, a class action lawsuit provides all these individuals with a voice in court within a reasonable amount of time.  
  • Because plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit are able to pull resources, there is a greater likelihood of securing financial recovery. Additionally, class actions lawsuits help to spread the compensation recovered across a greater number of plaintiffs versus a single individual obtaining the vast majority.

The trustworthy attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC are ready to fight for you if you have suffered hearing loss as a result of the d+e 3M military earplugs. Contact us today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation at our toll-free number (877) 919-0830. Our attorneys understand the class action lawsuit process and can provide you with more information about the options you have.

About Defective 3M Earplugs & Tinnitus

The company 3M has come under fire for selling defective combat earplugs. The Minnesota-based company began marketing the product in 2008 after acquiring it from original manufacturer, Aearo Technologies. Aearo Technologies knew the earplugs were defective since first being produced in early 2000 but 3M still sold them anyway until they were discontinued in 2015.

In recent years, veterans who were deployed in active war zones between 2003 to 2015 have begun to file lawsuits against 3M, claiming hearing loss and other damages such as tinnitus. While 3M is set to pay the U.S. military $9.1 million for their wrongdoings, veterans are having to seek out compensation on their own.

That’s why the national litigation firm of Hotze Runkle PLLC want to ensure that you are properly treated and receive the recovery you need to begin healing.  

If you are dealing with damages caused by these defective combat earplugs. Contact us today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation at our toll-free number (877) 919-0830.

About Tinnitus

Along with a host of other serious physical and emotional wounds, military veterans are also having to deal with tinnitus as a result of these defective earplugs that were supposed to protect them.

According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is a persistent ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling or other irritable sound heard by the sufferer. Tinnitus is not a disease itself but a symptom of an underlying condition of age-related hearing loss, ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder.

As per, tinnitus is the number one disability suffered by veterans and currently affects at least 1 in every 10 U.S. adults. Additionally, over 150,000 veterans were diagnosed with tinnitus in 2015 and nearly 1.5 million vets are currently receiving disability benefits for it.

Some of the common causes of tinnitus in military vets include:

  • Exposure to loud noises: The most common cause of tinnitus in U.S. military personnel, veterans often deal with explosions, gunfire, machinery, and aircraft, which all make substantial amounts of noise.
  • Ear bone change: When abnormal bone growth occurs, it affects your middle layer of the ear and again affect the hearing and cause tinnitus.
  • Other health conditions: There are a number of additional health issues that can lead to tinnitus including issues involving the heart, issues involving the blood vessels, jaw misalignment, head or neck trauma (a very real issue for military vets), and stress (PTSD can be a catalyst for veterans).

There are two kinds of tinnitus sufferers may be dealing with:

  • Subjective tinnitus is the most common type. It can be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound (auditory pathways). This leads to the sufferer hearing the noise only within their head.  
  • Objective tinnitus is much more rare type that can be observed by a doctor during examination. This could be caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition, or muscle contractions.  

Unfortunately, the majority of cases suffered by our US veterans come as a result of exposure to loud noises during active duty tours. When coupled with the fact that these individuals were provided defective equipment, the severity of the situation becomes much more upsetting.    

Preventing Tinnitus from Intensifying

There are certain behaviors and health-related activities that can aggravate your condition. It is important to take the necessary precautions to limit its effects on your life. Avoid:

  • Exposure to loud noise without protection
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking caffeine
  • Listening to music through headphones

Additionally, regular exercise and healthy eating is another way to keep your blood vessels healthy and could assist in reducing the impact of tinnitus. You’ll also want to avoid physical and emotional stress that can intensify the issue.

It is absolutely vital to your health and mental well-being that you seek out medical care as needed to help you with controlling your tinnitus.

If you were a service member in an active war zone between 2003 to 2015, and have suffered severe hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of defective 3M combat earplugs, then contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today for a FREE, no obligation consultation.

How Hearing Loss is Devastating Our Military Personnel

United States paratroopers airborne infantrymen in action in the desert

The sense of sound is one of the greatest gifts we are born with. The ability to hear can provoke so many different emotions; whether it’s the sound of roaring thunder, the joy of hearing your favorite song, or the sound of cries from your newborn, this sense is a monumental factor that can affect our quality of life.

Unfortunately, military personnel that served between 2003 through 2015 are facing appalling rates of hearing loss as a result of the defective 3M Combat Earplugs they were provided. Health issues associated with the product include hearing impairment, loss of hearing, and tinnitus, which is a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears.

But the soldiers that sacrificed for our country aren’t just dealing with the physical tolls of hearing loss but the emotional damages as well.

The committed and compassionate team of litigation lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC want you to know that you are not alone if you are dealing with damages caused by these defective combat earplugs. contact us today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. We want to help you right their wrongs.

About Hearing Loss & 3M

Hearing loss is actually a common disability in the United States with over 200,000 new cases reported every year. In total, hearing loss affects more than 28 million Americans, and sadly, more than half of those are over the age of 75.

In a whopping statistic, hearing loss is the most common disability when it comes to American Veterans. In some cases, the hearing loss may be temporary and reversed through surgery or other medical means. In others, hearing loss is permanent, with the only support coming from hearing aids.

While there are various forms of hearing loss, those relevant to our topic are Conductive and Sensorineural (or mixed hearing loss when these both affect the victim).

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is damage or blockage/infections in the outer and/or middle ear. The sounds cannot be conducted properly through the ear canal to the eardrum and affect hearing.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, is caused by aging, diseases such as meningitis, exposure to certain chemicals, and by damages caused by extremely loud noises such as explosions, gunfire, jet engines, and other military-related activities.

Many US veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations between 2003 through 2015 were exposed to frequent blasts and gunfire. When coupled with the fact that many of them were provided with defective Duel-Ended Combat Earplugs from the company, 3M, many of these same individuals are now suffering hearing loss as a result of their experiences out in these warzones.

According to the Department of Justice, in order to comply with government standards, the company manipulated test results and were well aware that their earplugs were too short to properly fit within the ear. Regardless, this negligent and irresponsible company still sold the product to the military without disclosing the design defect. Now, veterans are suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus, a high-pitched ringing sound that never goes away.

While a settlement has been reached between 3M and the US military, veterans are still dealing with their damages and have yet to receive any compensation for the injuries they have suffered.

Additional Problems Caused By Hearing Loss

If the hearing loss wasn’t bad enough, our veterans are also having to deal with the consequences of these damages. The problems caused by hearing loss will differ from veteran to veteran, but for most who suffer hearing impairment and noise-induced hearing injury, they may deal with:

  • Issues with socializing as they are no longer able to communicate effectively. Social isolation can have a profoundly negative impact on veterans who are already dealing with a host of other issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Issues with pursuing higher education and other forms of training because of their damages.
  • Fewer job opportunities caused by their communication impairment. This can lead to financial issues.
  • Psychological and emotional issues can arise including shame, depression, and low self-esteem.
  • Physical issues such as headaches, muscle tension from stress, and increased blood pressure are also associated with hearing loss.
  • An increased risk of accident or injury.
  • A lowered quality of life.

The reality is that hearing is extremely important to the emotional, physical, and psychological well being of our veterans. They do not deserve to be mistreated as such and the manufacturers of these defective combat earplugs need to be brought to justice.

As a member of the armed forces, you sacrificed in your fight for freedom. Now you deserve somebody to fight for you. If you were a service member in an active war zone between 2003 to 2015 and have suffered severe hearing loss as a result of defective 3M combat earplugs, then call Hotze Runkel immediately at (877) 919-0830  for a free consultation.

We will fight to earn your trust and secure you full compensation for all you have suffered.