Currently, veterans by the hundreds are filing lawsuits against a government contractor that manufactured combat earplugs. The earplugs were supposed to maintain a tight seal but instead allowed dangerous loud sounds to penetrate without the soldier knowing.
The lawsuits allege that 3M Company, formerly Aearo Technologies, knowingly designed the earplugs in a defective manner and failed to provide proper instructions for their use or warn users of the defect.
The failure to warn users has allegedly resulted in tinnitus, loss of balance, and hearing loss in those who used 3M’s trademarked, dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs produced from 2003 through 2015.
To date, over one hundred lawsuits have been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas — Waco Division. Due to the potential widespread damage, these cases are just the beginning; more lawsuits are likely as the product was never recalled and possibly still in use.
3M advertised its Combat Arms earplugs capable of permitting users to hear commands and approaching enemy combatants without impairment. Testing conducted by 3M found that the earplugs were defective, but the company falsified certification stating that testing complied with military standards. Their fraud has resulted in permanent injuries to American servicemen and women.
The U.S. government entered into a contract with 3M in 2006, in which 3M agreed to supply 15,000 earplug packages annually, at the guaranteed price of $9 million a year. The military contract lasted until 2015 when 3M discontinued the product.
Military personnel has been exposed to risk for permanent hearing loss and other hearing impairments for the 12 years falling between 2003 and 2015. If you or a loved one has suffered tinnitus or hearing loss and served in the military during 2003 to 2015, you could be entitled to compensation.
- Time Frame 2003 and 2015 – Military personnel experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ear) having used standard issue 3M Company (3M) combat arms earplugs.
- Lawsuit Allegations - The current claims filed allege that military contractor 3M knowingly sold defective 3M combat arms earplugs to the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015.
- The Product - Dual-ended 3M combat earplugs listed in lawsuit were yellow on one end and green on the other. The color indicates a level of noise protection. Nevertheless, the primary function of the product was faulty from the start as they were designed too short. They could also loosen imperceptibly during use. Both design deficiencies exposed military personnel to damaging noise levels that contribute to tinnitus, hearing loss, or possibly both.
The Consequence of Lawsuits To Date
A verdict in the July 2018 lawsuit found 3M Company guilty of knowingly selling defective combat arms earplugs (CAEv2) to the U.S. military without disclosing the earplugs could result in users developing tinnitus and/or hearing loss resulted in a $9.1 million settlement to the U.S. Military from 3M.
What happened with the $9.1 Million Settlement
The original whistleblower case was filed under the False Claims Act, so the settlement went directly to the U.S. military. This awarded compensation went to the government to cover money spent on purchasing 3M’s allegedly defective combat arms earplugs. The 2018 3M settlement does not benefit injured military personnel.
Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuits
In an effort to recover compensation on behalf of the injured soldiers, our attorneys are forming individual 3M combat earplugs lawsuits. Compensation could cover medical bills, pain and suffering, and additional damages from resulting injuries.
Contact the personal injury and product liability law firm Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South for a free, confidential case evaluation at 800-259-1005.