NATRONA COUNTY, WY. – A Navy veteran from Wyoming has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of earplugs he was issued in the military, which he says were defective. The earplugs, he says, did not adequately protect his ears, and he developed permanent hearing loss as a result.
The veteran’s lawsuit is pending in federal court and alleges more than $75,000 in damages, though the filing does not claim a specific amount in damages. According to the details outlined in his suit, the man was a construction worker and builder second class during his tenure of more than 10 years in the Navy. He was discharged honorably in 2014 after having served two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan.
Throughout his training and deployments, the veterans says he was issued dual ended earplugs that were manufactured by the company 3M. The Combat Arms earplugs were designed to protect military members’ ears from sounds such as gunfire and explosives, but the veteran alleges that the earplugs did not work properly. The defective earplugs led to his development of hearing loss and tinnitus, which is a condition characterized by ongoing buzzing or ringing in the ears.
The suit further alleges that 3M knew its earplugs were defective and continued to sell them to the government, placing military members at risk. Some of the allegations in the veteran’s lawsuit mirror those claimed in a lawsuit between 3M and the U.S. Department of Justice that settled in the summer of 2018. As part of that settlement, 3M paid the government more than $9 million while not admitting liability.
Numerous lawsuits related to 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs have been filed on behalf of U.S. veterans to date, and a multidistrict litigation is currently in place to oversee the majority of those claims.
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Have you or a loved one suffered hearing loss caused by defective military earplugs?