In July of 2018, the United States Department of Justice announced that 3M had agreed to pay $9.1 million in order to resolve allegations that they knowingly sold the Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 to the U.S. military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device. The ear plugs were originally manufactured by Aearo Technologies, which was acquired by 3M in 2008.
According to the lawsuit, Aearo was aware of the ear plug’s defects as early as 2000, many years before it and 3M became the exclusive provider of selective attenuation ear plugs to the military. Specifically, the United States alleged that 3M, and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., knew the Combat Arms™ Earplugs v2 were too short for proper insertion into soldiers’ ears and that the ear plugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefore did not perform well for certain individuals, the implication of which could result in serious and permanent hearing damage. It was also alleged in the lawsuit that this design defect was known to 3M but was not disclosed to the Department of Defense and that 3M may have manipulated test results to make it appear the ear plugs met government standards.
The Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were designed for military use and used extensively by millions of servicemen and servicewomen. Unfortunately, many may have been exposed to damaging sound levels after receiving defective and dangerous earplugs while fighting in:
- The Iraq War
- War in Afghanistan
- War in North-West Pakistan (part of War on Terror)
- War in Somalia
- Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
- American-led 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)
Due to the alleged design flaw, these soldiers could have been subjected to dangerous sound levels during training and in combat. Dangerous sound levels can have serious and permanent effects including partial or total hearing loss, or tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Hearing loss is one of the most common afflictions suffered by active duty and former servicemen and servicewoman. Tinnitus, which can be debilitating, is just as prevalent. According to James Henry, a research scientist with the VA Portland Healthcare System, last year there were over 1.6 million veterans seeking medical care for chronic tinnitus.
If you, or someone you know, was in active military service from 2003-2015 and suffered hearing loss of any amount and/or tinnitus, contact LKC trial attorney Bradley Leger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-761-7209 so you can protect your rights and learn more about your potential case.