U.S. Government Alleges 3M Knew Military Earplugs Were Defective, Falsified Test Results
The 3M earplugs were developed as “selective attenuation earplugs” and consist of two inverted cones connected at the bottom with a stem. This dual-ended design is meant to provide wearers with two different levels of protection: one end works like a traditional earplug while the other end, referred to as the “open” end, allows the wearer to hear quieter sounds like speech while still attenuating loud noises, such as explosions.
However, recently released court documents suggest the stem that connects the two ends of the earplugs is too short and prevents the earplugs from sitting deeply enough in the ear to provide protection. Additionally, the 3M earplugs can “loosen in the wearer’s ear, imperceptibly to the wearer and even trained audiologists visually observing the wearer, thereby permitting damaging sounds to enter the ear canal by traveling around the outside of the earplug.”
To make matters worse, the U.S. Justice Department alleges that 3M and Aearo Technologies, the original manufacturer of the earplugs, knew about the defect as early as 2000 and manipulated test results to make it appear that the devices met government standards. These companies then proceeded to sell the defective earplugs to the U.S. government who then distributed the devices to U.S. troops as standard issue equipment.
In July 2018, 3M Company agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Justice $9.1 million to settle a whistleblower False Claims Act suit accusing the company of knowingly selling defective earplugs to the U.S. military. Unfortunately, service members and veterans who developed tinnitus or hearing loss from using the faulty 3M military earplugs will not receive any of this money. This does not mean, however, that affected military members are left without a method of recovery.
Can I Sue for Tinnitus or Hearing Loss Caused by Defective 3M Earplugs?
If you used 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs while in the military and now suffer from tinnitus or hearing loss, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. For the past 25 years, our experienced product liability attorneys have handled a multitude of defective product cases and have litigated against some of the largest companies in the world. Our extensive legal and financial resources allow us to provide our clients with truly dynamic legal representation.
Let us help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.