In a settlement with the U.S. government, 3M Co. has agreed to pay $9.1 million in lawsuit alleging that the corporation knowingly provided U.S. troops defective earplugs.
Details of the 3M Defective Military Earplugs
Although the earplugs were meant to be used in combat, the corporation did not disclose defects that would limit the ability of the earplugs to protect against noise, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
The defect involves the earplugs being too short for proper insertion into the ear, and will loosen for some people. The payment settles the allegations that 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, knew about this defect.
“Government contractors who seek to profit at the expense of our military will face appropriate consequences” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler.
3M decided to settle in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle and investigation.
The company said in a statement that they “take great pride in our products and this resolution is not an admission of liability, but simply a decision to move forward with our mission to provide high-quality personal safety equipment products to our customers.”
About Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Depending on the intensity and length of exposure to a sound, noise-induced hearing loss can occur suddenly or take years to be noticeable. Typically, a sound of less than 75 decibels is considered safe. For reference, average decibel ratings for familiar sounds include:
- The humming of a refrigerator: 45 decibels
- Normal conversation: 60 decibels
- Noise from heavy city traffic: 85 decibels
- Motorcycles: 95 decibels
- An MP3 player at maximum volume: 105 decibels
- Sirens: 120 decibels
- Firecrackers and firearms: 150 decibels
Additionally, when hearing loss occurs, doctors classify the severity of the loss by degrees:
Doctors classify hearing loss by degrees.
- Mild hearing loss: One-on-one conversations are fine, but it’s hard to catch every word when there’s background noise.
- Moderate hearing loss: You often need to ask people to repeat themselves during conversations in person and on the phone.
- Severe hearing loss: Following a conversation is almost impossible unless you have a hearing aid.
- Profound hearing loss: You can’t hear when other people speaking, unless they are extremely loud. You can’t understand what they’re saying without a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
Can I File a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?
While 3M Company has agreed to pay a settlement to the U.S. Justice Department, it is important to remember that this payment does not benefit the service members and veterans who have suffered tinnitus or hearing loss while using the defective military earplugs. In fact, the payment is only meant to settle fraudulent claims accusations levied by a competitor of 3M. However, affected military personnel may pursue compensation through their own civil lawsuit.
If you were issued 3M combat earplugs while serving and now suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Over two decades of experience handling a multitude of defective product cases and extensive legal and financial resources allow us to provide our clients with truly dynamic legal representation. Thomas J. Henry has a proven track record of achieving real results for clients devastated by recalled products.
Let us help you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Our firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact us today for a free case review.