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The United States government was recently paid $9.1 million in a settlement by 3M Company, a manufacturer of earplugs sold to the military for its service members. A whistleblower initially filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act because of defective earplugs that 3M Company sold between 2003 and 2015.
But why were 3M Combat Earplugs used by members of the armed service? Let’s explore the details surrounding this nine-million-dollar scandal.
What Are 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?
The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs had unique dual-ended functions. One side of the device blocked out all sounds when inserted into the user’s ear. When the earplug was turned around, the other side blocked out louder sounds while still allowing the user to hear soft noises, such as commands from a fellow soldier.
The US Marine Corps was so impressed with the effectiveness of the earplugs that they ordered over 20,000 pairs in 2003, wiping out the nation’s entire stock.
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Why 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Were Military Issued
Over 1.7 million US veterans suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) due to long-term exposure to gunfire, bombs, aircraft, and tanks. The US military partnered with Aearo Technologies and 3M Company to supply service members with high-quality ear protection to prevent noise-related damages.
The military issues the earplugs to armed service members between 2003 and 2015 because they were so functional. The devices protected soldiers’ ears while still allowing them to follow commands.
What Was Wrong with the 3M Earplugs?
The dual-ended earplugs contained a defect that left servicemen and servicewomen at risk of hearing damage. The earplugs were too short and could not insert properly into some user’s ears. In addition, when worn, they could loosen, decreasing their ability to prevent hearing damage.
According to the lawsuit, 3M falsified test results showing the earplugs met the required standard for hearing protection when they did not. They also did not disclose the earplugs’ defect to the US military but continued selling the devices until 2015. Allegedly, the company knew about the defect as early as 2000.
The company’s negligence led to hundreds of vets suing for defective products, and the company paid over $9 million in lawsuits.
What Happened to the Military Members Who Used 3M Earplugs?
The company’s negligence resulted in hearing problems for men and women who protected our country during a 12-year span. Many of these service members now live with:
- Full or partial hearing loss
- Loss of balance and vertigo
- Mental health conditions (like depression, anxiety, and PTSD)
Since hearing damage is often permanent, the defective products created life-long injuries to thousands of military men and women across America.
For a free legal consultation, call 404-400-4000
Can I Recover Money If I Suffered Hearing Loss from Using the Earplugs?
The military chose 3M earplugs for armed force members to protect them from noise damage. Instead, 3M’s negligence in testing and selling the earplugs put thousands of military members at risk for hearing impairment and tinnitus.
If you or a loved one served in the armed forces between 2003 and 2015, used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, and currently suffers from hearing loss or tinnitus, you may be entitled to financial recovery.
Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney Now
At John Foy & Associates, our attorneys were proud to represent military members and veterans suffering from hearing damage due to 3M’s defective earplugs and help them seek justice. If you have questions about defective product lawsuits, call us at 404-400-4000 now.