3M Combat Arms Earplugs are dual-sided earbuds that were created by the company 3M for U.S. armed forces. The purpose of the earplugs was to provide better hearing protection in outdoor exposures and greater situational awareness to armed force members than regular foam earplugs. However, a lawsuit was settled in July 2018 where 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million after selling defective versions of the earplugs between 2002 and 2016.
Below are the details of the 3M Combat Arms earplugs lawsuit and what you can do if you or a loved one suffered a hearing loss injury as a result of using them.
How Were the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Found to Be Defective?
Aero Technologies, which is now 3M, certified that their 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) were on par with designated standards in 2003. There were two main ways this certification by the company turned out to be false:
1. Poor Noise Reduction Rating
Aero Technologies (now 3M) claimed the earplugs had a noise reduction rating (NPR) of 22, which is high enough to protect military members from harmful levels of noise.
The company had also claimed its earplugs allowed users to hear commands from fellow soldiers, as well as hear enemies approaching, as if nothing had been in their ears while also offering protection from damaging noises.
In reality, the earplugs had an average NPR of 10.9, which doesn’t even come close to meeting the standards for hearing protection.
2. Design Defect
It was also discovered that the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 contained a defect in their design. The earbuds were too short to properly insert into the car canal, which made them become imperceptibly loose when worn by the user.
Each of these defects left the user vulnerable to hearing damage or loss.
What Are the Details of the Lawsuit?
The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against 3M, alleging the company violated the False Claims Act by selling (or causing to be sold) the defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency and not disclosing the design defect to the military despite knowing about it.
Under the False Claims Act, private parties are allowed to sue on behalf of the United States government if they believe false claims were submitted to receive government funds.
The CAEv2 earplugs were standard issue in certain military branches during the following foreign conflicts from the year 2002 to 2016:
- 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
The defects may have caused significant hearing loss and tinnitus in thousands of soldiers and an increased risk of hearing damage in millions of others. According to the lawsuit, 3M had known the earplugs were defective as early as 2000, years before the company became the military’s exclusive provider of selective attenuation earplugs.
On July 26, 2018, the Department of Justice announced 3M had agreed to a settlement of $9.1 million. The case was resolved, but all claims within the settlement were left as allegations. Therefore, no determination of liability was made.
What Should I Do if I Was Affected By the Earplug Defects?
You may be entitled to a significant compensation if you meet the following criteria:
- Served in the U.S. Military between 2002 and 2016
- During your service time, used the military issued 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2)
- Were diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus after wearing the earplugs
Hearing loss is one of the most significant problems military members face today, and it can lead other severe effects like anxiety, depression, and more that largely affect quality of life for millions of veterans. If you or a loved one suffers hearing loss or tinnitus after wearing the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs while serving in the military between 2002 and 2016, you deserve fair financial recovery for what you’ve suffered. A 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawyer can help.
Get Help for Hearing Damage Caused by Earplugs
Our attorneys can help you seek financial recovery for your hearing loss or tinnitus suffered after wearing the defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs. 3M should be held responsible for its negligence and the resulting damage to millions of U.S. service members. Their actions should not be tolerated. We can help you fight back for the recovery you deserve. For a FREE consultation to talk about the details of the case and determine whether you’re eligible, contact us today. Call 404-400-4000, or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page for your free consultation.