Severe hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) along with other hearing-related issues are some of the most common disabilities military veterans face—and it’s an increasing problem. In recent years, the amount of military members with hearing loss has been rising dramatically. Understandably, veterans and their families are calling for an investigation into hearing loss in the military.
So, what’s happened that’s causing this hearing loss, and what’s been done so far? Read on for the answers.
Why Is Military Hearing Loss Being Investigated?
Hearing loss among the members of our military has been especially on the radar in the past few years. This is because of the discovery that 3M, a corporation supplying dual-ended combat earplugs to the U.S. military was selling defective versions of the product from 2003 to 2015.
That means that for 12 years, veterans’ ears were not protected from hearing damage as the government thought.
Specifically, military members were issued 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2). These were dual-ended earplugs meant to provide two functions for servicemen and women:
- One side of the earplugs would block all sounds like a traditional earplug.
- The other side would block out most high-decibel sounds like those from explosions and combat weapons while still allowing soldiers to hear commands and other communications from each other.
The manufacturer of the earplugs, 3M, allegedly covered up the fact that the product was too short and the earplugs became loose, without the user realizing, as they were worn. This allowed sound into the ears and no longer provided protection from loud sounds from military training and combat. As a result, military members were exposed to potential hearing damage that can affect their entire lives.
Obviously, this is a major allegation against a key military supplier and an investigation was needed.
Has There Been a Government Investigation Into Hearing Loss in the Military?
The short answer is that, yes, the government has done at least some investigation into hearing loss in the military — but it’s been limited so far.
This investigation was carried out by the Justice Department under the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act is a federal law that basically provides penalties for contractors that defraud the government (including the military) or sell it defective products — such as the combat earplugs used to protect the hearing of our men and women in uniform.
And it adds up. In 2018, the Justice Department recovered $2.8 billion in False Claims Act penalties. A small part of that was, indeed, money paid by the company 3M for the defective dual-ended combat earplugs it sold the military. The total 3M paid as a result of the investigation? $9.1 million.
If that seems like not enough of a penalty to you, you’re not alone. And, while that money helps pay back the country for being defrauded on behalf of its taxpayers, it’s unlikely to be used to directly help the veterans whose hearing was affected.
Instead, victims of military hearing loss need to pursue their cases in the courts. And that’s why the biggest investigations into hearing loss have come from law firms.
Attorneys Are Investigating Hearing Loss in the Military — on Behalf of the Victims
Veterans and their families are most likely to get justice — including money for the hearing loss and other damages they suffered — not from a government investigation, but with a lawsuit against 3M itself. That’s why attorneys are investigating hearing loss in the military right now.
At John Foy & Associates, our product liability lawyers have launched an active investigation into cases from veterans who have hearing loss as a result of the earplug defects. If you or a loved one were serving during this time and now suffers from hearing loss or tinnitus, you may be entitled to financial recovery.
How Do I Know if My Hearing Loss is From the 3M Earplugs Defect?
The defective earplugs impacted thousands of military men and women during the 12-year period they were sold and distributed. Veterans and active service members who were affected by the earplugs may experience side effects like:
- Full, partial, and/or permanent hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, or roaring sounds in the ears)
- Permanent hearing damage
If you have these effects, and you were in combat training or active combat any time from 2003 to 2015, there’s a decent chance your hearing loss may be related to the defective earplugs. You need to sit down with an attorney who can help investigate your specific case, including when and where you served, what your case has in common with other valid cases, and whether you were in fact using the 3M dual-ended earplug at any time.
In other words: we can help you determine if you have a case.
Out attorneys charge nothing for a free consultation to get your answers. And you pay nothing out of pocket, ever. We only get paid if we win you money. Our goal is to make it risk-free for service members, veterans and their families to get the help they need.
Get a Free Consultation with a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawyer
Don’t delay getting potential recovery for costs associated with your hearing damage. Selling of the defective earplugs began in 2003, and 3M allegedly knew about the problem since as early as 2000 without disclosing it. The statute of limitations may impact how much time you have to file a claim against 3M for financial recovery.
Our 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawyers can help you. We’ll listen to your situation and help you with the best course of action for seeking the financial recovery you deserve. For your free consultation, call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form to the right today.