Defective 3M Earplug Lawsuit
In May 2016, the United States government filed a Whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act against a Minnesota-based company, 3M, for knowingly vending the government with defective combat earplugs that failed to pass safety standards. 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., were allegedly aware of the earplug defect as early as 2000 and failed to notify the government of the potential ramifications of the flaw embedded within their product. On July 25, 2018, the United States Department of Justice announced that 3M settled by agreeing to pay the U.S. government a total of $9.1 million due to the allegations.
The defective earplugs manufactured by 3M, best known as Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2), were issued to veterans deployed between the years of 2003-2015. Starting in 2004, all veterans were issued a set of defective dual-sided earplugs that were olive green and yellow in color that served as standard equipment in the military. The dual-colored earplugs offered two options for sound attenuation while in combat. The green side offered a traditional sound block replicating a standard pair of earplugs compared to the yellow side that screened loud impulse sounds, such as explosions, while still permitting quieter sounds, such as commands, to pass through. Unfortunately, the earplugs were defective due to a design defect of being too short causing an improper fitting within the ear canal allowing the explosive sounds to still penetrate into the ear. And, as a corollary, many veterans were put at risk to suffer from partial or full hearing loss and ringing of the ears, known as tinnitus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that hearing impairments are the most common service-connected disability within the United States and that veterans are 30% more likely to suffer from hearing impairments than a nonveteran. It is estimated that millions of veterans were put at risk due to the use of the now discontinued CAEv2 earplugs while deployed.
If you suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus and were deployed between the years 2003-2015 in any of the following countries, you may be entitled to compensation:
If you believe that you or a loved one have been affected by this defective product, we recommend contacting an attorney to learn about your rights. Wagner Reese, LLP, is now evaluating these claims and can be contacted today at (888) 204-8440 or a free case evaluation.