3M Ear Plugs Lawsuit
Our lawyers represent veterans who suffered tinnitus, total hearing loss or partial hearing loss as a result of defective 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs manufactured by Aearo Technologies/3M and utilized in combat zones from 2003 to 2015.
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3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs Lawsuit
Defective 3M Ear Plugs Were Standard Equipment for Soldiers and Resulted in Tinnitus and Hearing Loss for Thousands
About the 3m Ear Plugs Lawsuits
The 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs (version 2) were standard issued equipment for soldiers between 2003 and 2015, including those deployed to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan and for military training. The two-sided ear plugs were designed to be versatile and allow soldiers either to block all noise or reduce noise from gunfire and explosions while still allowing communication between soldiers.
The ear plugs contained a critical design flaw that resulted in the plugs being too short for proper insertion into the ears. As a result, the plugs gradually loosened and performance for some individuals was compromised. A whistleblower revealed the critical design flaw and alleged that Aearo Technologies, the initial manufacturer of the product, knew about the problem as early as 2000. Many soldiers developed tinnitus as well as partial or full hearing loss. Aearo Technologies was acquired by 3M in 2008.
As a result of its failure to disclose the design flaw with the 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs, 3M agreed to pay a $9.1 million penalty to the federal government. The government had accused 3M of violating the False Claims Act by selling ear plugs that it knew were defective. The settlement between 3M and the Department of Justice does not resolve individual claims for persons harmed by the ear plugs.
The problems caused by the ear plugs may be widespread, with the Department of Veterans Affairs reporting that 190,000 veterans were diagnosed with tinnitus in 2016 and 103,000 were diagnosed with hearing loss.
Law Firm Founded by Veterans
Founding partners Van O'Steen and Jim Harrison are veterans, having served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army, respectively.
3M Ear Plugs Lawsuit News
On April 3, 2019, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation formed the MDL for 3M Combat Arms ear plugs lawsuits and assigned the cases to Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida. Since that time, the number of veterans and active service members who have brought claims against 3M have more than doubled.
3M is facing thousands of lawsuits brought by veterans of the military who report tinnitus or hearing loss after use of the company's combat ear plugs. The lawsuits allege that the 3M ear plugs are too short and could loosen without being noticed, leaving the soldier vulnerable to hearing damage during combat.
3M has settled claims brought by the Justice Department accusing the company of knowingly selling defective ear plugs used by combat soldiers. The $9.1 million settlement resolves claims brought by the government against 3M pursuant to the False Claims Act.