3M Earplugs Hearing Loss Lawyer
The U.S Defense Logistics Agency outfits the armed forces with a variety of hearing equipment to keep their ears safe, and in return, soldiers must trust that this equipment is reliable. Unfortunately, a recent case from the Department of Justice showed that 3M earplugs caused hearing loss. A specific model issued to the military, CAEv2 earplugs, which were manufactured by 3M, were faulty, leaving service members who used 3M earplugs to suffer from hearing loss and even deafness.
Members of the armed forces don’t lead easy lives. Answering the call of duty often means going above and beyond, even when it involves the sacrifice of their well-being. And when manufacturers reportedly know about product defects, caring more about profit and market control than safety, our armed forces are left to live with the complications. This is simply inexcusable, and at Parker Waichman LLP, we’re here to stand up for the rights of the brave people who stand up for us on the battlefield. If you’ve experienced hearing loss after wearing 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs, call us today for a free consultation.
3M Company Reportedly Knew About Faulty Combat Arms Earplugs
Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, the 3M Company is an American manufacturer that produces a variety of protective wear for commercial and industrial use, and it was the sole provider of hearing equipment for the United States armed forces for more than a decade. The company stands accused of selling the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency faulty hearing equipment, especially the dual-sided, selective attenuation CAEv2 3M earplugs, which are designed to filter out harmful noise levels for deployed troops. In the course of an investigation by prosecutors, it was found that 3M was aware that the stem of their Combat Arms earplugs was too short and did not allow the plugs to be pushed into the ear deep enough for maximum effectiveness.
The 3M Combat Arms earplugs, initially manufactured by Aearo Technologies, were found to have defects dating back to 2000, eight years before Aearo was bought out by 3M and three years before the U.S. armed forces began using 3M earplugs as their principal hearing safety equipment. Other faults discovered to have been hidden from the government included the fact that during their use, the 3M earplugs would gradually loosen until they failed to be effective at noise filtration.
A federal 3M military earplug lawsuit revealed that 3M’s product safety negligence contributed to serious hearing complications for members of the armed forces.
A Silent Epidemic: Hearing Loss Caused by Failed 3M Earplugs
When signing up for the armed forces, people may return home with not only physical and mental fatigue, but hearing loss or even deafness. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs Annual Benefits Report, veterans have experienced more than 1.9 million cases of tinnitus and 1.2 million cases of hearing loss. This makes tinnitus and hearing loss the two most common disabilities related to military service. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that veterans are 30% more likely to develop severe hearing impairment compared to non-veterans, making this a far-reaching problem that MySanAntonio dubbed “The Silent Epidemic.”
The 3M Company’s contributions to this epidemic are hard to ignore, as 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs were distributed to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 until 2015 as the exclusive hearing protection of the armed forces. A later CDC study found that veterans who served during that period were four times more likely to develop severe hearing impairment than any period before or since, showing that 3M earplugs cause hearing loss when these defective devices are used on the battlefield.
Armed with the facts and public veteran outcry, the U.S. government began prosecution over 3M Combat Arms earplugs.
The Government Lawsuit Against 3M
The federal 3M military earplug lawsuit was what’s known as a qui tam action. A qui tam case is a legal suit filed by a private corporation, in this case Moldex-Metric Inc., on behalf of the government under the False Claims Act. The Department of Justice joined in pursuing claims that 3M had violated the False Claims Act by selling a product that did not work as the company said it should and therefore made a fraudulent claim of government revenues in the form of military contracts.
The prosecuting corporation, Moldex-Metric Inc., is a California-based safety equipment manufacturer that has a history of back-and-forth litigation with 3M over their equipment. In a countersuit against 3M in 2017, Moldex-Metric claimed that 3M filed frivolous and baseless claims against Moldex-Metric products. They also claimed that 3M’s products failed to efficiently protect against noises deemed in the threat range of damaging combatants’ hearing. These claims would later form the basis of the 2018 settlement between the U.S. and 3M, in which the company agreed to pay $9.1 million following a protracted legal duel. For their part in the proceedings, Moldex-Metric was awarded $1.9 million in whistleblower fees.
After the case was settled, 3M issued a statement that “this resolution is not an admission of liability but simply a decision to move forward with our mission to provide high-quality personal safety equipment products to our customers.” Despite this, 3M has taken a severe hit to both their wallet and their reputation. The 3M earplug lawsuit settlement marked the first major victory for veterans injured by this faulty equipment, but it’s highly unlikely to be the last.
Veterans Seek Justice for 3M Earplug Hearing Loss
Although the federal case has been resolved, settlement of this 3M combat earplugs lawsuit included no formal assignment of liability. If it is shown that 3M knew or should have known that its Combat Arms earplugs were defective or did not adequately protect users, 3M may find itself having to pay compensation to service members whose hearing was negatively impacted by the earplugs’ defect.
At issue is an alleged defect in 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs. The earplugs have a yellow end and a dark green end. When the yellow end was inserted in the ear canal, the plugs were said to be able to reduce the impact of loud noises while still allowing the user to hear vocal commands and orders. When the green end was inserted in the ear canal, both softer sounds and loud noises would be reduced. However, the Combat Arms earplugs could become dislodged so that damaging levels of noise could be heard without the user necessarily knowing that the earplugs had come out of place.
Already, hundreds of veterans have filed suit against 3M over hearing difficulties experienced by service members who used 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs. Through a 3M earplug lawsuit settlement, these soldiers and sailors could receive compensation for their injuries.
Find Help for Victims of 3M Earplugs That Cause Hearing Loss
If you’ve experienced hearing damage after using 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman are here to help. We recognize that your 3M earplugs hearing loss has placed a substantial burden on your life, and our lawyers will help you hold the manufacturer accountable. We’ll work with you to paint a complete picture of your damages and pursue the fullest potential compensation for you and your family.
Contact one of our compassionate lawyers today to talk about how we can start your combat earplugs lawsuit. We provide free consultations for potential 3M earplugs cases, so you have nothing to lose, and you’ll be under no obligation by talking to us. Once you choose to work with our skilled attorneys on your veteran earplug lawsuit, we’ll take your case on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that our recovery is contingent on yours: If you don’t get paid, neither do we.
We understand how significantly your life has been affected by 3M earplugs that cause hearing loss, and we want to help you hold the manufacturer responsible. If you or a loved one were deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan and have subsequently suffered from tinnitus or other severe hearing loss or impairment, contact our firm today for a free consultation by filling out our online form or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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