Earplugs Linked to Hearing Loss
(Jan. 7, 2019) The 3M company agreed to pay the U.S. government $9.1 Million last summer to settle a lawsuit over defective earplugs that allegedly caused our soldiers hearing loss and/or tinnitus. That sum included $1.9 Million for a whistleblower who said the company knew the plugs were defective.
Related: Defective Earplug Lawsuit
Minnesota-based 3M made the earplugs for U. S. soldiers stationed mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2015. The Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs (CAEv2) – now discontinued – were standard equipment for soldiers during those years.
Acting in good faith that the plugs would do what the company claimed, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency distributed millions of dollars’ worth of them to thousands of service members, putting them at risk for permanent hearing loss or impairment.
The Defective CAEv2 Earplugs
The plugs featured a dual-ended design. They were meant to be used as either traditional earplugs, or they could be flipped over to provide normal hearing while protecting the wearer’s eardrums from gunfire noise and explosions.
The main complaint was that the earplugs were too short to be effectively inserted into a user’s ears. The too-short design led to the plugs gradually loosening in some ears, effectively rendering them useless to protect from hearing damage.
Whistleblower: 3M Knew Earplugs Defective
Though 3M has admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, a whistleblower said 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, knew about the plugs’ design problems as early as 2000. The earplugs failed to pass safety tests then.
Defective Earplug Lawsuit
The defective earplug lawsuit’s allegations were issued under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. That law allows private parties to sue on behalf of the U.S. government if they believe the lawsuit’s defendants submitted false claims for government funds. The law also allows whistleblowers to share in any funds recovered from a successful lawsuit.
As part of the defective earplug lawsuit resolution, the whistleblower will receive $1,911,000, according to the Department of Justice.
Legal Help for Soldiers with Hearing Loss
More than 2.6 million veterans are receiving disability compensation for hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), according to the Veterans Administration (VA).
Our law firm is investigating defective earplug hearing loss lawsuits. We are considering legal action for anyone who meets the following criteria:
- Served in the military 2003-2015
- Was issued earplugs during service
- Suffers from permanent hearing loss or tinnitus
Contact Matthews & Associates for a free legal consultation in a potential defective earplug lawsuit. Our attorneys and legal assistants may be able to help you take legal action for your hearing loss.