In July 2018, the Minnesota-based company 3M settled a whistleblower lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act by the federal government for selling the U.S. military defective earplugs, falsifying results from numerous safety tests, and failing to disclose a design defect.
The now-discontinued Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs™ (CAEv2) were standard issued for soldiers during combat missions from 2002 to 2015. If you have suffered hearing problems due to using Combat Arms Earplugs™ while serving the U.S. military between 2002 and 2016, it is imperative to obtain experienced legal representation from a knowledgeable and skilled lawyer.
What Damages Are Caused by 3M Ear Plugs?
Led by partner Maj. Cory R. Weck, USMC, Ret., McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP is actively seeking to represent United States Armed Forces Veterans who are experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus from defective Combat Arms Earplugs™.
Millions of military members were issued Combat Arms Earplugs™ during their service to our nation in various combat missions. Allegedly, the Combat Arms Earplugs™ have a dangerous design that can cause them to loosen while being worn and expose servicemen and servicewomen to damaging sound levels. This defect can allow dangerous sounds to enter the ear canal and cause permanent hearing loss or damage.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Annual Benefits Report for FY2016 indicates there were 1,084,069 veterans receiving disability compensation for hearing loss and 1,610,911 were being compensated for tinnitus (the perception of sound in the ears or head when no external noise is present, frequently is associated with hearing loss), making it one of the largest ongoing medical problems facing soldiers today.
In order to qualify for the 3M Lawsuit, you must have:
- Served in the U.S military between 2003 and 2015
- Used military issued dual-end earplugs during military service
- Unilateral or bilateral hearing loss
None of the following:
- Alport syndrome
- Branchiootorenal syndrome
- Meniere’s disease
- Pendred syndrome
- Stickler syndrome
- Usher syndrome
- Waardenburg syndrome
Why Were the Combat Arms Earplugs™ Defective?
The CAEv2 earplugs had a dual-ended designed—with one side colored yellow, while the other was colored olive. Each end had two different levels of noise protection. The olive side was used as a traditional earplug and the yellow side had a special filter which allows lower-level sounds to pass without significant interruption while also blocking intense noises like gunfire and explosions.
But according to court documents, the Combat Arms Earplugs™ were too short and could be easily dislodged, providing inadequate protection to users. Aearo Technologies, Inc.—who originally designed the earplugs—was aware of the defect as early as 2000. 3M bought the company in 2008 and subsequently hired Aearo workers to create and test the Combat Arms Earplugs™.
In several branches of the military, these defective earplugs were issued during combat missions from 2002 to 2016 in the following engagements:
- 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 – present)
- Yemeni Civil War (2015 – present)
- American Intervention in Libya (2015 – present)
Military Hearing Injuries
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) are the most common injuries suffered by American veterans. Both types of hearing problems are typically caused by an acute (one-time) exposure to an intense sound such as an explosion or by repeated long-term exposure such as repeated gunfire.
By filing a lawsuit, affected service members can recover financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages suffered using the defective earplugs.
Stand Up For Your Legal Rights
To date, more than 600 personal injury lawsuits have been filed against 3M for their dangerous military earplugs. The cases are now part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) assigned to the U.S. district court in Pensacola, Florida, a region heavily populated by military personnel. Judge M. Casey Rodgers, a former army service member, is assigned to the case. Judge Rodgers has ample experience with large product liability MDL and has the knowledge and resources necessary to make a fair judgment in the upcoming case.
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We at McCune, Wright & Arevalo, LLP Support our Military Veterans, and led by Major Cory R. Weck, USMC, Retired, are active in representing military veterans in injuries suffered during service and in civilian life.
McCune Wright & Arevalo is a powerhouse national product liability law firm with offices in Southern California, Illinois, and New Jersey. Our lawyers are trial-tested and have three decades of experience on mass torts and class actions, product liability, complex litigation, and personal injury lawsuits. If you or a loved one suffered hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of using defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs™. Please contact us to learn about your legal rights and how we can assist you in seeking compensation from the manufacturer.
If you have been diagnosed with serious hearing loss or tinnitus, please contact the product liability attorneys at McCune, Wright & Arevalo, LLP, at (909) 345-8110 for a free confidential case evaluation.