On July 26, 2018, 3M Corporation agreed to a $9.1 million settlement with the U.S. government for its role in selling faulty earplugs to U.S. military personnel. Members of the military who wore them between 2003 and 2015 may suffer from permanent hearing loss due to defects not found during the earplug production process.
Those suffering from these defective earplugs are not alone. Others experiencing hearing abnormalities have consulted with Michigan Injury Lawyers in Grand Rapids, and we urge you to as well. We serve this community and surrounding areas with dignity and fairness in all legal matters.
Contact our firm today to consult with an attorney versed in 3M Corporation litigation.
Michigan Injury Lawyers Has Experience in 3M Earplugs Litigation
Michigan Injury Lawyers has a proficient team of lawyers who will fight for you to seek justice on your behalf and obtain fair compensation for your hearing damage.
In this and other product liability claims, our experience representing clients who have been injured due to the negligence of others is unparalleled.
We have recovered money for clients in personal injury and product liability claims where negligence was proven to cause injury or death. Our representation in your case will increase your chances of settling your claim favorably, and for every penny your injury is worth.
3M Earplugs claims will start with a thorough case evaluation to determine the extent of damage that 3M Company could be responsible for. This consultation is at no cost to you.
The Defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Suit
The case, United States ex rel. Moldex-Metric v. 3M Company, Case No. 3:16-cv-1533-MBS (D.S.C.), highlights over a decade of 3M Company Combat Arms Earplug V2 (CAEv2) sales to members of the Armed Forces which were to become standard issue hearing protection for service members who needed them. These dual-sided earplugs provided military members the option to either block out all sound (color coded black), or hear low-pitched verbal commands while shielding their eardrums from higher decibel noises (color coded yellow).
Due to a design flaw, the earplugs would loosen to the point of inadequate hearing protection, oftentimes unbeknownst to the military member. Since they were used near aircraft and on shooting ranges, hearing damage cases gradually grew in military members who bought them between 2003 and 2015.
The $9.1 million settlement resolves allegations brought to the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions found in the False Claims Act of 1863. Under the Act, private citizens may file suit against a company on behalf of the government where false claims were made to secure government contracts or procure government funds. Per an agreement with the DOJ, the whistleblower will receive $1,911,000.
The July 2018 settlement, in addition to resolving whistleblower allegations, also resolves allegations that 3M Company, along with its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, knowingly and willingly violated the False Claims Act by providing the Defense Logistics Agency product they knew to be defective. The short design was too small to fit into even the smallest human ear canal, and 3M failed to disclose this flaw.
What Are the Effects of These Defective Earplugs?
Earplugs are designed to fit comfortably in your inner ear and, depending on the environment where they will be used, can reduce sound pressure on the ears so the user can work or perform duties without permanently damaging their hearing.
According to the DOJ lawsuit, CAEv2 plugs failed to adequately protect military members when working or doing routine drills near higher decibel sounds such as mortar explosions, gunfire, aircraft and larger equipment that generated loud sounds. Humans have sound receptors located in their inner ear that, when damaged, can cause tinnitus.
Tinnitus gives us the sensation of hearing sound where no sound is present, otherwise considered “phantom noises”. You may hear buzzing, humming, ringing, clicking or hissing sounds in areas where no sounds exist.
Many cases of tinnitus are annoying yet temporary, although sustained exposure to high-pitched sounds may aggravate tinnitus. In other words, a slight hissing could seem like a loud roar in your ear after prolonged exposure to loudness.
You may also experience:
- Constant fatigue;
- Anxiety for unknown reasons;
- Memory problems;
- Sleep deprivation;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Pain or difficulty hearing normal sounds in close proximity;
- Anxiety; and
- General irritability.
We Will Hold 3M Liable On Your Behalf
Michigan Injury Lawyers has succeeded in many product liability claims where individuals received items that did not function as advertised. Our firm believes that our military personnel should hold 3M Company liable for deficient earplugs, and any ensuing hearing damage to the affected military members.
A product liability suit may allege that:
- 3M Company had prior knowledge of the potential design flaws in their CAEv2 earplugs, yet sold them to a military contractor who, in turn, issued them to military members between 2003 and 2015;
- 3M (Aearo Technologies) knew as early as 2000 that earplugs failed to provide adequate noise cancellation, and there were few if any benefits of issuing these to military members; and
- 3M failed to disclose this vital information for the benefit of securing a signed contract with the U.S. government.
If you served in the U.S. Military, regardless of branch, from 2003 to 2015, and you were issued 3M Combat Arms Earplug V2 (CAEv2), your hearing may gradually deteriorate. If that damage is connected to your service time, you may be entitled to compensation from 3M Company. This includes personnel deployed to heavy combat zones in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Contact Michigan Injury Lawyers
Our military protects the many freedoms enjoyed by American citizens, including the executives at 3M Company. When products fail to protect them, and another individual or company knows they will fail to work, a defective product claim is born.
Were you or your loved one a member of the military during the settlement period of 2003 to 2015, and are you experiencing hearing loss? A ringing sensation that will not subside? Contact Michigan Injury Lawyers to discuss your situation and legal options, including any rights you may have to compensation. Call (888) 454-0801 or write to us today.