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In July 2018, 3M Company (3M), the multinational corporation that exclusively sold earplugs used by all branches of the United States military, settled a lawsuit by agreeing to pay $9.1 million. This happened after the company allegedly sold defective versions of their 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 and falsified test results between 2003 to 2015, thus putting many soldiers at risk of sustaining hearing damage. If you or a loved one has suffered a hearing loss injury—including full or partial hearing loss or tinnitus—in the military because of earplugs, you need to speak with a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit lawyer today.
At John Foy & Associates, we continuously fight for the rights of those suffering from a personal injury. We know our military men and women make sacrifices every day for our country, and we believe you shouldn’t have to suffer for a corporation’s negligence in testing and selling the military a product. If you or someone you love is dealing with hearing loss because of the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, we’re here to help. Give us a call today for a FREE consultation to talk about the situation and discuss your options for moving forward. Call 404-400-4000 or complete the form to the right for your free consultation.
How Was the 3M Company Negligent in Testing and Issuing the Earplugs?
In 2003, it appears that Aero Technologies falsely certified the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 as being up to the designated standards after a government contract proposal was issued to the company. Even though testing for the earplugs was negligent and subpar, Aero Technologies stated the product had a 22 noise reduction rating, or NPR, and would protect those in the military ear-damaging sounds.
In actuality, the earplugs had an average NPR of 10.9, much lower than the required standard. The earplugs were also found during testing to contain a design defect: the earbud was too short to insert into the ear canal properly, causing them to be too loose. According to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, 3M (which has since acquired Aero Technologies) had known the earplugs were defective since at least the year 2000.
In continuing to sell, or cause to be sold, the defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency, the company violated the False Claims Act.
Employees who were hired by 3M after the acquisition also knew about the product defect, and the design defects were still never reported to military members or the U.S. government.
At What Times Were the Defective Earplugs Issued?
The defective earplugs were assigned to all military personnel between the years 2003-2015. They were used during the following conflicts:
- The Iraq War
- War in Afghanistan
- War in North-West Pakistan (part of War on Terror)
- War in Somalia
- Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
- American-led intervention in Libya
- American-led intervention in Iraq
- American-led Intervention in Syria
- Yemeni Civil War
- American Intervention in Libya
Who Qualifies to Pursue a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit?
To participate in a lawsuit for damages due to the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have served in the U.S. Military between the years 2003-2015
- Used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs that were military issued during your service time
- Have been diagnosed with bilateral or unilateral hearing loss
- Do NOT have any of the following conditions:
- Stickler syndrome
- Waardenburg syndrome
- Usher syndrome
- Branchiootorenal syndrome
- Pendred syndrome
- Alport syndrome
- Meniere’s disease
How Can the Earplugs Defect Cause Hearing Loss?
The defect prevented the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs from being able to properly insert into the military members’ ears.
Each side of the earbuds were designed to work in slightly different ways; on one side, the earbud’s inverted cone shape allowed it to be inserted into the ear canal to mute sound, but still allow the user to hear enough for a conversation. The other earbud was meant to provide greater protection from loud noises like airfare or gunfire.
Because the defect kept the earbuds from properly inserting into a user’s ear, the product wasn’t providing the hearing protection it should have—making each user susceptible to significant hearing damage that could be irreparable and lead to hearing loss and disability.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, veterans already have a higher 30% chance of developing severe hearing impairment versus non-veterans.
Further, veterans who served between 2003 and 2015 (during which the 3M earplugs were distributed to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq) were four times more likely to develop significant hearing impairment than those serving before or after those periods.
This knowledge shows the manufacturers of the 3M earplugs put their profit above the well-being of our armed forces, leaving the affected military members with complications they must live with at no fault of their own.
What Should I Do if I Have Hearing Impairment From the Earplugs?
According to official releases on the case, it has been resolved—but any claims made within the settlement were only labelled as allegations. This means no one has been officially declared liable in the case. But 3M is still implicated in responsibility for the hearing loss problems resulting from defective earplugs used by our military during the 12-year period.
Those who suffered hearing damage from the earplugs will need to work with a personal injury lawyer who understand this type of case. They will help you compile all information demonstrating your damages so you can pursue compensation for you and your family’s suffering.
Speak with a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit Lawyer Today
Proper protection for our soldiers who are protecting our country is crucial, and the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs are a demonstration of failure to uphold that protection. If you or a loved one has hearing impairment after using these earplugs at any time during the years 2003-2015 and meets the criteria above, you shouldn’t have to suffer for this company’s substantial negligence.
At John Foy & Associates, we want to help you seek financial recovery for the burden these earplug defects have put on your life. We understand product liability cases and have pursued them against even the largest corporations. For a FREE consultation to discuss you case today, contact us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page.