3M Combat Earplugs

Day Law Group

Defective Earplug Attorneys in Baton Rouge Fighting For Justice For Our Troops: Day Law Group

On July 26, 2018, the Department of Justice announced that defense contractor, 3M Company (3M), headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold thousands of defective earplugs (Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2, [“CAEv2”  or “3M Combat Earplugs”]) to the military for use in combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan or training exercises in the United States.

3M acquired the products in 2008 when it bought Aearo Technologies for $1.2 billion. Between 2003 and 2015, 3M was the exclusive supplier of “safety” earplugs (Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2) to the U.S. military for use during combat. In a Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit, the government alleged that Aearo knew as far back as 2000 that the earplugs were defective, and that 3M not only also knew they were defective, but deliberately falsified the company’s internal noise reduction rating (NRR) test results and continued selling the defective earplugs to the military anyway. As a result, many service members suffered permanent hearing loss or damage, including tinnitus.

The 3M Combat Earplugs were designed to be dual-ended; meaning that if you inserted one end in the ears you (allegedly) blocked out all noise. If you turned the earplugs around and inserted the other end, you were supposedly protected from loud blasts yet still able to hear commands, conversations and certain noises.

The problem was that the earplugs were defectively designed. They were not long enough to permit adequate insertion into the ears of certain individuals which caused them to loosen imperceptibly, making them completely useless and exposing soldiers to hearing loss.  After 3M repeatedly ignored complaints about the defective design of its 3M Combat Earplugs, a whistleblower lawsuit was filed and 3M was charged with violations of the False Claims Act.

The $9.1 million settlement reimburses the government for the public funds paid to the companies for their defective products. It does not compensate individual veterans who suffered hearing loss or damage after wearing 3M Combat Earplugs.

For veterans and servicemen and women to potentially receive compensation for their injuries, they must file a lawsuit against 3M and any others involved.

You May Be Entitled to Compensation

The government issued millions of service members with defective 3M Combat Earplugs. You may not even have realized that you used them.

If you served in the military anytime from 2003 to 2015, and have suffered permanent hearing loss or tinnitus, you may be entitled to compensation.

This includes:

  • military veterans,
  • combat veterans who did tours in Afghanistan or Iraq,
  • reserve members who were stateside but routinely fired weapons for training, and
  • Navy and Air Force personnel.

Hearing loss, including full or partial hearing loss and tinnitus is the third most common type of service-related injury, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”). While dangerous sound levels due to gunfire and explosions in a combat zone may be an unavoidable risk of warfare, knowingly being deceived about your “safety gear” is not. Thousands of military personnel have been needlessly subjected to the loss of their hearing by 3M, which knew its 3M Combat Earplugs were defective and not designed to protect against combat sounds. 

Conflicts Where Combat Arms Earplugs Were Used

The 3M Combat Earplugs were issued to servicemen and women engaging in the following foreign conflicts:

  • The Iraq War
  • War in Afghanistan
  • Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
  • The war in North-West Pakistan (part of War on Terror)
  • War in Somalia
  • Intervention in Libya (2011- part of Libyan Crisis)
  • American-led intervention in Iraq (2014 – 2017)
  • American-led intervention in Syria (2014 to present)
  • Yemeni Civil War (2015 to present)
  • American Intervention in Libya (2015 to present).

Injuries Suffered by Affected Servicemen

Some servicemen and women affected by the defective 3M Combat Earplugs have experienced permanent full or partial hearing loss.

Others now suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition where the affected person hears (among other things) either constant or intermittent:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Whistling

Tinnitus can cause difficulty concentrating and sleeping. In many cases, the condition is permanent.

Still others now suffer from Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), an inability to distinguish between sounds.

Attorneys Committed to Helping Our Troops Get The Compensation They Deserve

If you served in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015— or know someone who did—and you suffer from hearing loss, auditory processing disorder or tinnitus as a result of wearing 3M CAEv2 Combat Arms Earplugs, contact us. 

The lawyers at the Day Law Group are here to help our brave servicemen and women recover the compensation they deserve for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages they’ve experienced as a result of using defective military earplugs. We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we offer free consultations. To schedule your free consultation, call us ToDay at: (225) 200-0000 or contact us here.

Call 225-200-0000 or click here for a consultation.