Texas Veteran Files Lawsuit Against 3M Company Over Defective Earplugs
Texas veteran Sgt. Scott D. Rowe has filed a lawsuit against 3M. Rowe claims he suffered permanent hearing damage due to defective, military-issued earplugs made by 3M.
Information About the 3M Lawsuit
According to the Houston Chronicle, Rowe has accused 3M of knowingly making and selling defective earplugs to the U.S. military. The lawsuit claims that Rowe has suffered hearing loss and tinnitus due to using the earplugs throughout his service at Fort Hood and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Rowe’s attorneys accuse 3M of ignoring a defect in the stem of an earplug model known as the “dual-ended Combat Arms.” A short stem would allegedly prevent users from entering the earplugs deep into the ear canal, leading to an increase in exposure to loud sounds.
Constant exposure to loud sounds is known to cause damage to the ears.
Rowe Seeks Medical Care Compensation
Rowe seeks compensation for his past and continued medical care in addition to loss wages due to his condition.
Rowe claims the constant ringing in his ears has caused severe physical and mental anguish.
3M Responds to Accusations
3M denies the accusation that they knowingly sold defective earplugs to the U.S. military, claiming a consistent dedication to safety.
The company sold the “dual-ended Combat Arms” earplugs to military bases in Texas from 2003 to 2012.
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 Hearing Loss 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.