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A company called 3M that supplies equipment to our troops recently paid $9.1 million to the United States government for selling defective standard-issue combat earplugs. The product was used by military service members between 2003 and 2015.
The dual-ended 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) were found to have a design defect that left many service members vulnerable to significant hearing loss, including those who were doing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan during the mentioned years, Navy and Air Force members, and reserve members who regularly fired weapons for training. 3M admitted to falsifying test results in this lawsuit that was largely helped by the False Claims Act.
What is the False Claims Act?
According to the Department of Justice, Congress enacted the False Claims Act (FCA) in 1863 in response to concern about the Army being defrauded by those supplying them with goods. At the time of its enactment, anyone who knowingly submitted false claims to the federal government was liable for double the amount of government damages and a $2,000 penalty for each false claim made. The FCA has gone through many changes since then, with penalties increasing and various amendments made to the law, but the intent remains the same.
The FCA includes what’s called a “qui tam” provision that’s significant to the 3M Earplugs lawsuit. Here’s how:
- Under the qui tam provision, private parties not affiliated with the government can bring lawsuits on behalf of the government—even if the non-affiliated person has not been personally injured.
- These parties are known as “relators” and the action is known as “whistleblowing,” especially if the realtor is working for the organization being accused in the lawsuit.
- If the lawsuit is successful, the relator is able to receive a percentage of any damages recovered in the lawsuit. This is known as a “bounty” and can range from 15-30% of damages recovered.
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How Was the False Claims Act Involved in the 3M Earplugs Lawsuit?
The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit that was brought by the government against 3M resulted from a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act. The whistleblower was Moldex-Metric, Inc., a competitor of 3M. Moldex and 3M have sued one another over several years.
Under this whistleblower lawsuit, Moldex accused the 3M company (and Aero Technologies, its predecessor) of falsely claiming the CAEv2 earplugs meet required standards for safety when they did not. The complaint also claimed the companies knew the product was too short to properly insert into the ears of some soldiers, but did not disclose this to the government, and also falsified test results. As a result, the government was led to believe the earplugs—which were standard-issue for military personnel—met mandatory safety requirements.
The whistleblower lawsuit was brought in 2016. And according to the Department of Justice, as part of the False Claims Act, the whistleblower will receive $1,911,000 as a share of the settlement from the lawsuit.
What to Do if You Were Harmed by 3M Earplugs
If you or a loved one served in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015, used the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) during that service time, and suffers from hearing loss or tinnitus, you may be eligible for a settlement. Hearing damage is very common in veterans who served during the years of these earplug defects. You shouldn’t have to bear the burden of costs from injuries that were wrongful and dishonestly brought against you.
For the best chance at a full financial recovery for your damages, it’s best to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Contact a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit lawyer who can help you determine whether you’re eligible and then help you with your claim.
Speak with a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawyer Today
At John Foy & Associates, we stand behind our U.S. servicemen and servicewomen. If your hearing was affected by the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs during your active duty, you deserve financial recovery for what you’ve suffered.
With 20+ years of experience in product liability cases like this, we know how to fight for your rights and strong arm those who should pay. Working with us is risk-free because we don’t get paid unless we win YOU money. For a free consultation to talk about your options in this case, contact us today. Call us at 404-400-4000, or complete the form to the right as soon as possible.