In July 2018, a company called 3M paid the federal government $9.1 million after allegedly selling defective earplugs to thousands of armed forces service members over a 12-year period. The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) were found to contain a design defect that did not protect soldiers from hearing damage as expected. As a result, many soldiers and veterans were put at risk of hearing loss between 2003 and 2015.
If you or a loved one is a veteran who served during this time period and suffers from hearing loss or tinnitus after using the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, you may be eligible for financial compensation for the defective earplugs. To find out for sure, read details of the lawsuit below and contact a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit attorney today.
The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit
From 2003 to 2015, the CAEv2 earplugs were standard issue for soldiers during the following conflicts:
- War in Afghanistan
- Iraq War
- 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
These earplugs contained a unique dual-ended design that let soldiers switch between different levels of hearing protection. When the olive green side was inserted into the ear, it acted as a standard earplug, blocking out all sounds. When the earplug was flipped to the other, yellow side, the user was still protected from loud noises like gunfire, explosions, or machinery sounds but let in enough sound for soldiers to hear quiet sounds like spoken commands from other soldiers.
As it turned out, the earplugs weren’t providing the level of protection claimed by 3M Company, Minnesota-based corporation providing them. The earplugs were too short to insert properly into some soldiers’ ears, causing them to loosen without the user realizing and exposing them to ear-damaging sounds around them.
Despite the earplugs failing safety tests, 3M did not disclose these defects to the government when they were sold as standard-issue products to armed force members. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 3M allegedly knew the earplugs contained issues as early as 2000.
The government was first made aware of the earplugs defect after a whistleblower brought a lawsuit against 3M under the False Claims Act.
Veterans May Be Eligible for Financial Recovery
Although the lawsuit was settled between the government and 3M, many, many military servicemen and servicewomen are affected by the lack of protection caused by the earplug defects, including those living with long-term hearing damage. Service members have been filing hearing disability claims and seeking compensation for the damage caused by the defects.
Veterans who meet the following criteria may be eligible for financial recovery in this situation:
- Served in the military between the years of 2003 and 2015
- Was issued the dual-ended 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 during that time (most members were)
- Has been diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus (which is a ringing or buzzing in the ears not from external sounds)
Symptoms of hearing loss resulting from use of the defective earplugs can also include:
- Continuous or intermittent roaring, hissing, whistling, buzzing, or ringing in the ears (all common tinnitus symptoms)
- Trouble understanding others when speaking to you
- Having to listen to the TV or radio at high volumes
- Requiring a hearing aid
- Having to ask others to repeat themselves
If any of these apply, you may be eligible to pursue significant financial recovery from the defects found in the 3M earplugs and the resulting hearing loss. You may also be eligible for military disability benefits. Speak with one of our 3M Combat Arms lawsuit attorneys as soon as possible. We can help you determine your eligibility and your options for seeking recovery.
Speak with a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawyer Today
Our attorneys at John Foy & Associates have more than two decades of experience helping our clients win the financial recovery they deserve for others’ negligence. 3M has paid the government for their defective products, but we believe all individual service members deserve recovery for their damages too. If you have hearing loss or tinnitus from using the 3M earplugs any time between 2003 and 2015, you need a good lawyer on your side. Contact us today for a FREE consultation to discuss your eligibility and how we can help. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form to the right as soon as possible for your free consultation.