The company responsible for supplying the US military with earplugs, 3M, recently agreed to pay $9.1 million in a settlement after a lawsuit revealed serious product defects and company negligence. 3M allegedly knew about the product defects before they sold their Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 to the US military for their exclusive use.
Due to these defects, countless men and women could have suffered serious hearing problems, including hearing loss and tinnitus, as a result. If you or someone you love served in the US Military and suffered a serious hearing problem, you may be eligible to certain damages.
In 2003, the military first began purchasing the dual-ended earplugs from Aearo Technologies. Five years later, 3M acquired Aearo and continued to supply their earplugs to the U.S. military. In 2016, a full thirteen years after the military started using these earplugs, a competitor filed a whistleblower lawsuit, exposing 3M for knowingly selling defective products to our troops. The lawsuit claims that 3M broke with the False Claims Act by creating and selling defective products to the military, and failing to inform the military of the known faults.
The whistleblower even alleges that the company set up fraudulent testing to show how the earplugs complied with US military standards, though they did not. On July 26, 2018, 3M agreed to pay the military more than $9 million to resolve the issues associated with their earplugs.
According to a statement by the United States Department of Justice, 3M knew that their dual-ended earplugs were “too short for proper insertion into the users’ ears and that the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefor did not perform well for certain individuals.” As a result of this defect, countless service members have suffered partial and complete hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing problems.
Were You Affected?
Due to the amount of time 3M supplied the military with their dual-ended earplugs, any service members who served between 2003 and 2015 could have been affected. Soldiers used these earplugs during combat trainings and while serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. While using these earplugs, soldiers may have lacked sufficient protection while surrounded by explosives, gunfire, and other loud, damaging noises. As a result, service members may have experienced preventable hearing injuries, such as tinnitus and hearing loss. If you or someone you love was affected by the 3M earplugs, you may be eligible to seek compensation from the liable party.
Contact Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. today if you were injured after using the 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2. Our Kansas City personal injury lawyers are prepared to help you build a case.