2018 proved to be a difficult year for 3M. First, the company was hit with allegations over its fire suppressant foam. Then, a whistleblower came forward to voice their anger over its defective military earplugs, which have caused service members a multitude of injuries. If you or a family member served between 2003 and 2015 and have experienced hearing problems as a result, a defective product lawyer can help you get compensation.
The products in question are 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs. Between the years of 2003 and 2015, the company manufactured Version 2 of these earplugs, which were standard issue for military personnel. The earplugs offered what the company called “selective attenuation.”
Service members wearing these earplugs could insert one end of the earplug into their ears if they wished to block all typical sounds. The other side purported to block the far louder noise of combat, while still allowing service members to hear quieter sounds and verbal commands, and they could be inserted during engagements on the battlefield.
Unfortunately, the now-discontinued Combat Arms Earplugs contained defects that failed to protect service members’ hearing as they claimed.
The problem with the Combat Arms earplugs was in their design. They were not only found to be too short to be inserted properly but were also found to loosen in the wearer’s ear without their knowledge, rendering the product completely ineffective for a large number of individuals.
The design incorporated the use of yellow fins which needed to fold back in order to form a tight seal, but there were no instructions provided from the manufacturer to indicate this. As a result, it was assumed they could be inserted like regular ear plugs and would provide the required level of protection. Sadly, when tested, the earplug was found to have a noise reduction rating of zero when used in this manner.
Service members who wore Combat Arms earplugs during combat and training have sustained permanent hearing damage or loss, along with the many associated difficulties of these conditions. Those who have filed lawsuits against 3M are seeking compensation for tinnitus or complete hearing loss they believe to be a direct result of wearing these defective earplugs.
Among the many damages being sought are medical expenses for past and future needs, past and future wage loss, and mental anguish as the result of sustaining total hearing loss or tinnitus.
If the cost, stress, and potential for further injury weren’t enough, affected military members and their families were shocked to learn that 3M not only tested their product prior to distribution and knew that their Combat Arms earplugs were defective, but went a step further to falsify the product’s certification, stating that their earplugs were compliant with military standards.
Finally, the company never notified the military of their defective products, choosing instead to pocket the $9 million it had received for each year of its contract with the U.S. government.
The whistleblower who first alerted several government and military departments to the problem claimed that 3M and Aearo Technologies—the earplug design company that it acquired in 2008—knew about their defective military ear plugs as far back as 2000.
Among those involved with the investigation were the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and Special Agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
After a coordinated effort by these departments to investigate and prove the allegations, the whistleblower was awarded well over $1 million in damages. In July of last year, it was announced that 3M had agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act.
The contract that 3M entered into with the U.S. Government required it to provide 750,000 pairs of earplugs annually to the military between 2006 and 2015. Although it would be well within reason to assume the company would recall their defective products, this was not the case. As a result, these earplugs are both very likely still being used by service members and being sold by a number of vendors as well.
Those who served in the military between 2003 and 2015 were issued these defective earplugs during their service and who have developed tinnitus or total hearing loss as a result can be eligible for compensation even if they are already getting benefits from disability or the military.
This offers a wealth of advantages to those who suffer from the physical, mental, and financial effects of hearing loss. A 3M defective ear plugs settlement can provide enough money to purchase hearing aids or surgery to mitigate hearing loss and needed treatment for tinnitus. Support equipment such as canes or walkers can be of infinite value in the face of dizziness and loss of balance—both very common and potentially dangerous symptoms associated with tinnitus.
In being able to obtain these needed items, a person can not only maintain their independence but also regain their confidence. Suddenly, they have the opportunity to return to work and earn a living to contribute to the well-being of their family after possible years of suffering.
In the words of attorney Andrew Cobos, who was one of several attorneys who filed lawsuits on behalf of military members, “3M’s actions cannot, and should not, be tolerated.” Truer words were never spoken.
Even before the horrific allegations against the company for their defective earplugs were officially made, 3M had a history of placing United States service members lives in danger when they chose to include two frighteningly dangerous chemicals in what they claimed was a fire and health-safe product. As a result, many military employees continue to suffer from too many serious medical conditions to list here. Is this how much value 3M places on our country’s protectors?
No one affected by the egregious acts of this evil company should feel they need to remain silent. Every day, more military members come forward to tell their stories of loss and suffering. In adding your voice, you can tell 3M that the damage it has caused to you and your family is as real as the $9 million annual payout it so happily placed into its bursting bank accounts in exchange for its worthless hearing protection products.
You can tell them that their refusal to tell the truth is now costing their country and its servicemen and women millions of dollars in medical treatment each and every year, countless hours of unheard conversations with their loved ones, and untold amounts of depression, stress, and frustration over irreversible hearing loss.
It may seem like a good idea to try to fight this company by yourself. However, in doing so, you’ll need to understand legal terms, gather the right evidence in the right amount, and be able to defend your rights. As well, going it alone can present the opportunity to pull the rug right out from under you.
The chance of a 3M earplug lawsuit payout is much higher when you work with an attorney having experience in defective and dangerous products; one who understands the complexity of cases and language of the court. Someone who knows all the tricks that the other side will try to pull to get out of paying you what you so rightfully deserve.
Saunders & Walker have helped many military service men and women to get the money they need for their medical bills, treatment costs, and supportive equipment purchases. It’s because we understand these cases so well that we can defend you so aggressively. We love putting big companies in their place; get started today with your free consultation.