Over 600 U.S. military veterans have filed lawsuits against 3M in recent months, claiming that the company’s Combat Arms earplugs were defective and led to permanent hearing loss and other symptoms. While 3M has awarded settlements to the U.S. government, veterans who used the earplugs are now fighting back by filing individual lawsuits against 3M. Read on to learn more about the case and what steps you should take if your hearing has been impacted by the earplugs.
Dangerous Design Flaws
When military personnel received 3M Combat Arms earplugs to use during training and combat, they were told that the sound-blocking technology would protect their hearing. When inserted one way, the double-ended earplugs would allow them to hear commands and the sounds of approaching enemy soldiers. If they inserted the other end, the earplugs would protect their ears from dangerously loud noises.
Despite these assurances, hundreds of veterans who used the earplugs between 2003 and 2015 have experienced permanent hearing loss, loss of balance, and tinnitus (a high-pitched hissing or ringing in the ears). According to a joint lawsuit filed by the U.S. government and a competitor of 3M, the earplugs allegedly had several design flaws. Due to the earplugs’ short length, they failed to create a tight seal, often loosening in the ears and falling out, allowing damaging levels of noise from nearby small arms and heavy artillery to enter.
Although hearing loss and tinnitus are the top two disabilities experienced by service members and dangerous levels of sound are inescapable in combat zones, many service members may have been unnecessarily exposed to dangerous levels of sound because of the defective product.
3M Allegedly Aware of Defects
In July 2018, the U.S. Justice Department settled a lawsuit with 3M regarding allegations that the company had defrauded the government by selling the defective earplugs for over a decade. The joint lawsuit, filed by the government and a 3M competitor, also alleged that 3M was aware of the design defects but continued to sell the earplugs without disclosing the issues from 2003-2015. 3M agreed to pay the government $9.1 million to compensate them for the earplugs’ cost, but refused to admit fault.
No military personnel received compensation under the government settlement, but veterans have now begun filing individual lawsuits to recover punitive damages for their losses, claiming gross negligence and alleging that 3M did not adequately warn them about the defective earplugs or show them how to use them properly. Individual lawsuits will cover medical bills, pain and suffering, and additional damages caused by the allegedly defective earplugs.
Individual Combat Lawsuits Eligibility
Many former military personnel who served during this time period and suffer from hearing loss are now wondering if they are eligible to receive compensation.
If you or a loved one served in the military between 2003 and 2015, were issued 3M earplugs during your time of service, and have experienced permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or other symptoms, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.
When you work with the experienced team at Paynter Law Firm, you’ll pay nothing for legal services unless we win your case. While no amount of money can replace the quality of life you have lost due to this defective product, we will fight for your rights and seek maximum compensation for your losses.
Get in Touch for a Free Consultation
If you are a veteran who has been harmed after using 3M earplugs, contact us right away. Because there are strict deadlines for filing your case, it is in your best interest to get in touch as soon as possible. Consultations are always free. We’ll answer your legal questions, explain your legal rights, and discuss the types of compensation you may be entitled to.