If you or a loved one suffered hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or other hearing damage due to the use of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, you may be eligible to file a 3M earplug lawsuit. Call Reeves & Mestayer today at 228-374-5151 or toll free 1-855-558-2977 for a free case assessment.
3M Company, the well-known Minnesota-based manufacturer and defense department contractor, recently agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit brought by the U.S. government under the False Claims Act. The lawsuit alleged that the company knowingly sold defective earplugs to the U.S. military.
The defective product, Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), was widely used by the military from 2003 to 2015, during the height of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Aearo Technologies, the company that designed the earplugs and was acquired by 3M in 2008, knew about the design problems as early as 2000. The defective earplugs may have caused significant hearing loss to anyone in the military who used them during those years.
Not only did 3M/Aearo knowingly sell defective earplugs to the military, they took aggressive action to prevent others from providing a more effective product. In 2012, 3M sued Moldex-Metric for patent infringement over their BattlePlugs. Moldex won the lawsuit, the BattlePlugs are now being used by the military, and 3M’s CAEv2 product has been discontinued. Ironically, Moldex ended up being the whistleblower that helped initiate the government’s lawsuit against 3M in 2016.
What Was the Problem with the Earplugs?
The CAEv2 earplugs were dual-ended with the intention of providing both hearing protection and the ability to communicate when necessary. Using one end, users were supposed to be able to hear sounds at reasonable volumes, such as their fellow soldiers talking to them. When they inserted the other end, they were supposed to receive significant noise protection from loud sounds on the battlefield, such as explosions and gunfire.
The problem was that the plugs did not reach deep enough into the ear, because the stem was too short. This caused the earplug to become loose, allowing destructive sounds to enter the ear canal and potentially damage the user’s hearing. Testing by the company that invented the earplug also showed that the earplug had a noise reduction rating (NRR) of zero, which 3M admitted in a False Claims Act lawsuit.
As a result of the defects in 3M’s earplugs, claims of tinnitus and hearing loss among U.S. troops and veterans have skyrocketed in recent years. A growing number of military members suffer hearing problems due to lack of proper protection from combat noise, firing weapons in training, aircraft noise, and other noisy conditions during training and on the battlefield.
Approximately 60% of all military personnel now report hearing loss after leaving the military. As of 2014, more than 933,000 veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss and approximately 1.3 million were receiving compensation for tinnitus.
How can Affected Veterans and Active Duty Military Recover Compensation from 3M?
In July of 2018, 3M agreed to pay the U.S. government $9.1 million to settle its whistleblower lawsuit. However, the $9.1 million settlement will not go directly to the service members whose hearing may have been damaged. To obtain compensation, those affected must file a lawsuit directly against 3M and any others that may have been involved. Troops and veterans who suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, and other health problems because of the faulty CAEv2 earplugs may be entitled to file a 3M combat earplug lawsuit even if they are receiving VA disability.
Do You Have a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?
If you are a veteran or active duty U.S. military member and you experienced hearing problems from using the 3M dual-ended combat earplugs, contact Reeves & Mestayer today for a free consultation. Our seasoned product liability lawyers are ready to go to work for you, and we will fight hard for the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Call our office today at 228-374-5151 or toll free 1-855-558-2977 or send us a message through our online contact form. We are currently accepting ear injury cases in all 50 states.