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
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
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.