Faulty 3M Military Earplugs Spark Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuits
As attorneys who serve a community that’s home to thousands of military personnel, we are acutely aware of the dangers faced by service people. The dangers of foreign deployments are well known. However, many veterans who served their country say they suffered injuries from an unexpected source; faulty earplugs.
Almost 236,000 veterans who claim defective earplugs damaged their hearing have filed lawsuits against the Minnesota-based manufacturer 3M. The size of the lawsuit is growing by the week.
What to Know About the Faulty 3M Military Earplugs Lawsuits
In July 2018, the Justice Department announced 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold earplugs to the U.S. military without disclosing defects that hampered their effectiveness, Military.com reported. The action was filed through the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, according to the Justice Department.
The earplugs manufacturer also lost a case this year when a jury awarded $7.1 million to three U.S. Army veterans who claimed to have suffered tinnitus and hearing loss when defective earplugs failed to protect them.
Veterans accuse the earplugs manufacturer of failing to warn them of the defect and not providing correct instructions for the use of the earplugs.
Military personnel used 3Ms dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs for over a decade from 2003 to 2015, according to reports.
Many of the veterans who are suing 3M claim the devices became loose, exposing them to loud noises on the battlefield or during training. Veterans say the defective earplugs caused permanent hearing loss. Others claim to suffer from tinnitus or constant ringing in the ears years after leaving the military.
The U.S. government pointed to defects in the devices during the False Claims Act case. The federal government’s lawyers said 3M and its predecessor company, Aearo Technologies, Inc., knew that the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into the ears of users.
The U.S. government alleged 3M failed to disclose its design defect to the military when the contract was finalized. Instead, military personnel learned about the problems with the earplugs the hard way.
The Severity of Hearing Loss Cases Among Military Service Members
Alarmingly, military personnel used 3M’s earplugs for over a decade. It’s likely that millions of service personnel used them. Many of them may be suffering from hearing issues without realizing a potential link to 3M’s products.
A handful of trials scheduled this year are likely to impact the thousands of other cases filed. Although a jury issued a $7.1 million award against 3M in the first trial, and another veteran was awarded $1.7 million, a federal jury in Florida sided with the earplug manufacturer.
The mass tort lawsuit was brought over 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2), sold to the military to protect service members’ hearing during exposure to machine gun explosions, fire, and other loud sounds. The earplugs were manufactured with a dual-end design. One end was meant to reduce noise while still allowing service members to hear orders and communicate. The other end was meant to offer protection from the loudest and most intense noises on the battlefield. It’s deeply disturbing that veterans who served their country with distinction should end up suffering this litany of injuries.
When products cause injuries or fail to protect people in the way they are intended, manufacturers can be sued under the law of product liability. Our Virginia defective product attorneys have successfully brought cases against manufacturers across the United States. Given the speed the 3M litigation is moving, it’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to join the mass tort litigation. Call us today.