The Minnesota-based, military contracting company 3M designed dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, to block out noise as typical earplugs as well as reduce the noise of battlefield noises like gunshots and explosions. They were designed to allow the wearer to hear their commanding officer when the yellow end was in their ears. These earplugs were standard issue for certain branches in the military for over ten years. However, 3M allegedly sold the earplugs knowing they were defective, leading many servicemen and women to suffer from severe hearing loss.
A whistleblower allegation accused the military contractor of selling the government defective products from 2003 to 2015. The earplugs were designed too short for proper insertion into users’ ears, allowing them to slowly and subtly loosen until they did not perform as intended. This defect allows harmful sounds to enter the ear canal, causing damage to the eardrum.
Following these allegations stating that 3M knowingly sold their faulty earplugs to the U.S. government with no intention of alerting them of their defaults, the company paid $9.1 million to resolve allegations against them to the military. However, the company has yet to make an effort to help the service members who may have suffered severe hearing damage when using the faulty earplugs. Many of these users could be suffering from hearing loss, with symptoms that include:
- Muffled speech
- Difficulty hearing specific words over background noise
- Having to increase the volume on TVs or radios
- Some have even developed tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears.
These conditions are a sign of gradual hearing loss and may indicate a greater ear injury.
How Do I Know If I Can Pursue Legal Action and Compensation?
The allegations were made under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act that allows private parties the opportunity to sue on behalf of the government if they believe the lawsuit’s defendant submitted a false claim to receive government funding. This allows those who did sustain hearing damage the right to seek compensation for damages. You are eligible if you:
- Served in the military between 2003-2015
- Used issued 3M earplugs during your service
- Suffer from permanent hearing loss or tinnitus
Contact Atkins & Markoff Today
If you are a veteran who has suffered serious hearing loss or suffer from tinnitus following the use of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, while serving a branch in the U.S. military, you may be eligible to seek compensation from the manufacturer of the product. To learn more about your options or to seek a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys, contact us today.