Faulty 3M Military Earplugs Spark Lawsuits

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Many veterans who bravely served their countries in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home injured. Enemy action did not cause all of those injuries. In a recent lawsuit, hundreds of veterans claimed defective combat earplugs damaged their hearing.

Faulty 3M military earplugs failed to maintain a tight seal and allowed dangerously loud sounds to reach the wearer without his or her knowledge, Military Times reported.

The lawsuits claim Minnesota-based 3M designed defective Combat Arms earplugs for military personnel. The veterans accuse the company of failing to warn users of the defect and not providing proper instructions for the use of the earplugs.

Military personnel used 3Ms dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs while in service from 2003 t0 2015, according to reports.

What Impact Did the Use of 3M Military Earplugs Have on Wearers?

Injured veterans who are suing 3M claim the earplugs became loose without them realizing it, exposing them to loud noises on the battlefield or in training.

Many veterans are claiming their use of the defective earplugs caused permanent hearing loss. Others claim to suffer from tinnitus or constant ringing in the ears.

These are very serious side effects. Hearing is vital for many jobs and affects functions like balance. Veterans who suffered hearing loss are struggling to get their lives back on track after their ordeal. Hampton Roads has a large military community that is impacted by this issue. Please contact the Smith Law Center today if you suffered hearing loss or damage after using 3M military earplugs. 

What Allegations Were Brought Against 3M over Military Earplugs? 

A lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act in 2016. It claimed that the military contractor sold defective combat earplugs to the U.S. government despite knowing the devices failed to meet safety standards.

3M is accused of altering study data relating to its CAEv2 Combat Arms Earplugs. Veterans bringing lawsuits claimed during the testing that 3M researchers couldn’t get the earplugs to block noise at 22 decibels. They discovered they could reach the 22-decibel level if they folded back part of the earplug, according to reports. 3M is accused of failing to give these instructions to the military.

In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve claims that it knowingly sold the U.S. military defective earplugs.

In the settlement, the U.S. government alleged that 3M and its predecessor company, Aearo Technologies, Inc., were aware the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into the ears of users.

The U.S. government alleged that 3M did not disclose its design defect to the military when the contract was finalized. Instead, service personnel learned about the problems with the earplugs the hard way.

Who Can Sue 3M Over Defective 3M Military Earplugs? 

Many military personnel may have suffered hearing loss, tinnitus or other problems because of faulty 3M earplugs. They include combat veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq and reserve members who routinely fired weapons in the United States.

Current and former military service members who served at any time from 2003 to 2015 may also be entitled to compensation from 3M for their hearing loss issues. 

Can Veterans who Already Claim VA Disability Sue 3M? 

Many veterans who suffered from hearing problems receive partial disability and hearing aids from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They may still be entitled to sue 3M for their hearing loss from the use of Combat Arms earplugs. 

You should seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe your hearing problem is linked to the use of faulty earplugs. 

How Widespread is the Problem of Faulty 3M Earplugs? 

The size of the contract 3M entered with the U.S. government suggests hearing issues linked to faulty earplugs in veterans is widespread.

The U.S. government entered into a contract with 3M in 2006, reported Military Times. However, military personnel used earplugs before that date. The company supplied about 15,000 earplug packages, with 50 pairs per package. The lawsuit cites a guaranteed price of at least $9 million per annum in sales. 

3M sold the earphones in bulk to the military until 2015, when it discontinued the product. However, no recalls were issues. The lawsuit warns service personnel may still be using defective earplugs. 

Call an Experienced Hampton Roads Injury Attorney over Faulty 3M Military Earplugs 

At the Smith Law Center, we value the contribution made by our service personnel, past and present. We are shocked by allegations that a company may have sold defective earplugs to the U.S. government when it was aware of the serious risks.

If you or a family member has suffered hearing problems linked to the possible use of 3M earplugs, we want to hear from you. Please contact us today at 757.244.7000.