The 3M company who held the exclusive contract to manufacture military ear plugs for over a decade has admitted it knew they didn’t work properly or even at all. What does this mean for service members who counted on these defective earplugs?
The recent 3M combat arms earplugs lawsuit
In July 2018, the Department of Justice announced that it had reached a settlement with the combat arms earplugs manufacturer, 3M. In this whistleblower suit, 3M admitted that it was aware as far back as 2000 that the earplugs it manufactured did not have any noise reduction effect. As a result of this false claim, 3M agreed to pay the US government $9.1million.
However, while this lawsuit established some important facts about these defective ear plugs, it didn’t address the claims of service members who used the earplugs and suffered damages, such as hearing loss, as a result.
Who used the defective ear plugs?
3M had an exclusive contract to manufacture the combat arms earplugs and therefore they were standard issue for military personnel from 2003 to 2015. Current and former service members who served at any point during the years these ear plugs were used may have been injured. In particular:
- Combat veterans who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Navy and Air Force members who used the ear plugs
- Members of any military branch including the reserve who regularly fired weapons during training
Why are the combat arms earplugs defective?
The combat arms earplugs, also known as selective attenuation earplugs, were designed to allow two levels of noise reduction; one that would prevent the wearer from hearing any noise and another that would block the loudest sounds but still allow the wearer to communicate. The dual-ended ear plugs could be reversed depending on how they were being used.
However, according to documents uncovered during the DOJ investigation and 3M earplug lawsuit, the devices were too short to accomplish this purpose and small fins on the ear plugs could prevent a tight seal from forming in the wearer’s ear canal. Instead, they could come loose inside the ear and fail to provide any sound protection. Service members wearing the earplugs were repeatedly exposed to damaging noises and may have suffered hearing loss or tinnitus as a result.
What should I do if I suffered hearing loss after using military ear plugs?
If you or someone you love used the 3M military ear plugs and suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, or other ear injuries you may have a claim for medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Even if you already receive disability payments and/or hearing aids from the VA, you may still be eligible to file an 3M ear plug lawsuit.
Because of the DOJ’s settlement with 3M, military members across the country are now seeking damages for the injuries they suffered as a result of these defective ear plugs. This is not a class action but rather individual people filing earplug lawsuits against 3M across the country. Those who may be eligible for a lawsuit against 3M should contact us for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency-fee basis.
Call a lawyer.
Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a potential military ear plug lawsuit. An experienced attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are free. Click here to see more about our office locations throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call us at 1-800-537-8185 today.