Military service members thought they were protecting themselves with 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Ear Plugs. Unfortunately, the devices offered no protection when worn as instructed by the company, and as a result, hundreds if not thousands of service members are now experiencing life-changing hearing issues.
In July 2018, Minnesota-based 3M Company, which designed the earplugs and failed to warn users of the issues with proper usage instructions, settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice. 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to the government to resolve allegations that it supplied the U.S. with defective earplugs. However, none of the settlement money went to the service members who were injured by the defective devices. Individual lawsuits are now being filed on behalf of servicemen and women with hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus) due to 3M’s fraudulent behavior.
What Types Of Earplugs Are Involved
The defective earplugs are 3M’s trademarked, Olive/Black or Yellow/Black Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs. The company that originally made the earplugs, Aeroero, was acquired by 3M in 2008. They intentionally and knowingly falsified the safety testing, and 3M knowingly continued to sell the earplugs after the acquisition.
The earplugs were designed to block loud noises such as battlefield explosions and artillery fire while also letting users hear quieter noises so they could communicate with others. During the manufacturer’s safety testing, it discovered that the earplug did not protect the ear from damaging noise. The earplugs were manipulated during the testing so they would meet the proper safety requirements. No one was ever notified that this was done, or that the earplugs needed to be worn in a specific way to work properly. As a result, the hearing of military members was left unprotected in combat and training situations. 3M discontinued production of the earplugs in 2015, but the earplugs were never recalled.
Do You Think Your Hearing Was Affected?
Symptoms of hearing loss include ringing or buzzing in the ears with no external noise present (tinnitus), muffling of speech and other sounds, trouble hearing consonants, frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly. If you have been diagnosed with these symptoms and served in the military from 2003-2015 using 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs, you may be eligible to file a claim. Hearing loss may be severely affecting your life so seeking compensation can help with medical expenses, lost wages and any pain and suffering you may be experiencing.
If you or someone you know used 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs and suffers from hearing loss, please contact the attorneys at Childers, Schlueter & Smith at 800-641-0098 or fill out our online contact form. We can answer your questions and help you determine if you qualify for any type of compensation. All initial inquiries are free of charge and without obligation.
A partner with Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC,, Brandon Smith has devoted his practice to pharmaceutical litigation, mass torts, products liability and serious personal injury. A frequent guest speaker at legal seminars all over the country—Brandon is focused on helping injured victims nationwide, however possible. Named a SuperLawyer again in 2019, he has also been called out as one of 10 Best Attorneys For Georgia by the American Institute Of Personal Injury Attorneys and a Top 100 Lawyer in Georgia by the National Trial Lawyers in 2019.