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3M Earplugs Lawsuit

3m earplug lawsuit on military fatigues

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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 from the use 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.

3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs are known as “selective attenuation earplugs.” The 3M Earplugs looked like two inverted cones connected at the bottom with a stem and were developed to provide two different levels of protection. One cone provided ear protection while still allowing the user to hear speech – the other cone provided greater noise suppression.

A whistleblower lawsuit claims the stem that connects the two cones was too short and did not allow the earplugs to go deep enough into the ear to provide protection. According to the complaint, the 3M earplugs would “loosen in the wearers ear, imperceptibly to the wearer and event trained audiologists visually observing the wearer, thereby permitting damaging sounds to enter the ear canal by traveling around the outside of the earplug.”

Additionally, the lawsuit states that the defect was discovered as early as 2000 and that 3M and Aearo Technologies, the original manufacturer of the earplugs, manipulated test results to make it appear that the devices met government standards.

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

Minnesota-based manufacturer 3M Company recently agreed to pay the U.S. Government $9.1 million to settle allegations that it knowingly sold defective combat earplugs to the U.S. military without disclosing defects that limited the effectiveness of the earplugs. Unfortunately, none of this money will be allocated to the service members and veterans who have developed tinnitus or hearing loss from the use of the faulty 3M Military Earplugs. This includes service members who have suffered permanent hearing loss and auditory damage resulting in injury, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and medical bills.

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.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Among Military Veterans

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 symptoms of 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  Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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. 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:

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.

Do You Suffer from Tinnitus or Hearing Loss Caused by Defective 3M Earplugs?

If you were issued 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 haven 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. Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact us today for a free case review.

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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