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3M Military Earplugs

3m earplug lawsuit

3M Earplugs Left U.S. Troops and Veterans with Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Thomas J. Henry is representing U.S. service members and veterans nationwide who have developed hearing loss and tinnitus because of defective combat earplugs manufactured by 3M and Aearo Technologies. The defective military earplugs were issued from 2003 to 2015 to troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and the Indian Ocean and were also used during training.

What Is the Problem with 3M Military Earplugs?

According to court documents, 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2) suffer from a design defect that left thousands of U.S. troops and veterans exposed to dangerous levels of sound as well as possible hearing loss.

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 wearers 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.

U.S. Government Awarded $9.1 Million in 3M Military Earplug Lawsuit

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.

In the wake of the settlement, hundreds of military veterans have filed lawsuits against 3M seeking compensation for their hearing loss and auditory damage. Damages include:

  • Injury
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning potential

If you were issued 3M earplugs while in the military and now suffer from tinnitus or hearing loss, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Our experienced product liability attorneys have successfully litigated against some of the largest manufacturers in the world and will fight to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us now for your free confidential case review.

Military Hearing Damage and Tinnitus

Hearing loss is the most common disability among veterans. Frequent and persistent exposure to damaging levels of sound such as gunfire, aircraft noise, loud machinery, and explosions mean service members experience hearing loss and tinnitus at a much greater frequency than the average adult. In fact, in 2003, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that auditory system injuries, including full or partial hearing loss and tinnitus,  were the third most common type of service-connected disability.

As of 2017, tinnitus and hearing loss were the top two service-connected disabilities for all compensation recipients.

Symptoms of  Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Both hearing loss and tinnitus can result in long-term life-altering consequences, including difficulty sleeping, trouble holding a conversion, and difficulty concentrating. Depending on the sufferer, the tinnitus can result in different “sounds” at varying volumes. For example, tinnitus may come in the form of:

  • Ringing
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Whistling

Other symptoms of hearing loss include:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, or loudly
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio

Additional Information 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:

  • 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 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.

Very satisfied with my case! Everyone was very supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better team,
Review by: Eva Longoria
Reviewing: Legal Services
Date published: 06/27/2017
Rating: 5 / 5 stars



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