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3M Defective Earplug Lawsuit

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3M Company recently settled a lawsuit for $9.1 million that was brought by the United States Government alleging that 3M knowingly sold defective and dangerous earplugs to the United States Military for use by servicemembers. These earplugs did not work as intended or represented and can cause hearing loss or tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ear) for veterans who used them. Like the Government, Veterans may be entitled to compensation from 3M.

The Combat Arms Earplug Version 2

Between 2003 and 2015, 3M provided its Version 2 Combat Arms Earplugs to the US government pursuant to a contract. These were two-sided earplugs-black or dark green on one end, and bright green on the other-with each side intended to perform a different protective function and prevent hearing loss or tinnitus. One side was meant to block out all sound no matter what the volume level. The other side of the Combat Arms Earplug was intended to block out sound of a certain volume level, common to combat and military operations, that are known to cause hearing loss or tinnitus. This includes gunfire, explosions, and other dangerously loud noises common in combat situations. The Combat Arms Earplugs were meant to incorporate a special shape that would function to block out these weaponry noises and the like while allowing servicemembers to communicate effectively on the battlefield. However, 3M and Aearo Technologies (its predecessor) knew that the earplugs were too short and poorly designed to accomplish either the complete sound blocking function or the function to block out gunfire and other damaging noises. Because they were too short, the Combat Arms Earplugs had the tendency to imperceptibly shift in the ear, causing them to become loose and not provide the necessary protection from gunfire and other combat noise. Aearo knew, as early as 2000, that this defect would cause the earplugs to be less effective than required.

Despite knowing that these earplugs were defective and could be causing physical harm to military servicemembers, 3M continued to sell thousands of them to the government for military servicemembers to use, without disclosing the flaws. 3M failed to warn the users of the earplugs, and utilized testing and methodology that did not comply with accepted standards and practices. In short, 3M made and sold a product it knew was defective. This product injured thousands of the military servicemembers who used it and suffered hearing loss and tinnitus.

Veterans Harmed

Though 3M settled its case with the US government, there are still many servicemembers injured by these earplugs left in the lurch and who do not receive any part of this settlement. If you served in the military from 2003 onwards, used the 3M dual-colored earplugs, and were discharged with a diagnosis of hearing loss or tinnitus, you may be entitled to receive compensation. As with all lawsuits, time delay can bar your claims. Lawsuits are being filed daily. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation, confidential consultation and we can provide you options in seeking compensation for your injuries.