Minnesota based manufacturer, 3M Company, will pay $9.1 million in order to resolve allegations of knowingly selling defective military earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency.
The Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) was designed to allow wearers to use one side of the earplug to hear speech and to use the other side for increased protection against damaging levels of sound. The design of the earplugs resulted in a short stem that wouldn’t go deep enough into the ear to provide effective protection to the wearer. This would increase the risk of tinnitus and hearing loss among the troops on the frontlines.
The specific allegations involved 3M as well as Aearo Technologies, the original manufacturer of the earplugs until 3M acquired Aearo Technologies in 2008. Aearo Technologies was allegedly aware of the defective design in 2000, according to the 3M lawsuit.
The allegations that were resolved by this settlement came from a whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act and filed by one of 3M’s competitors, Moldex-Metric. The case is captioned United States ex rel. Moldex-Metric v. 3M Company, Case No. 3:16-cv-1533-MBS (D.S.C.). Moldex-Metric will receive $1.9 million from the settlement.
3M Failed to Disclose the Design Defect
Rather than performing the correct test or redesigning better military earplugs for soldiers, 3M sold these products to the U.S. Military and put thousands of military personnel at risk of hearing damage. Many veterans may even link his or her tinnitus or hearing loss to the use of these 3M earplugs. By failing to disclose this design defect, U.S. troops were not fully protected from intense levels of sound from gunfire, explosions, aircraft, and machinery.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said in a statement that, “government contractors who seek to profit at the expense of our military will face appropriate consequences,”. Companies such as 3M will have to think twice before engaging in fraudulent activities that aim to profit off the U.S. Military.
A statement by Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig, Jr., DCIS Mid-Atlantic Field Office reads, “This settlement demonstrates the commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our law enforcement partners to hold companies accountable for supplying substandard products, in particular products that could directly impact our service members’ health and welfare. DCIS protects the integrity of Defense Department programs by rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse that negatively affect the wellbeing of our troops,”. The U.S. Military seeks to protect the men and women who serve the country, however, not all of the settlement money will go directly to those who have suffered from the use of the CAEv2 earplugs.
Hearing Damage Linked to 3M Earplugs
Due to the design flaw in these earplugs, soldiers who were issued them could have potentially been to exposed to dangerous levels of sound either on the frontlines or during training. These harmful levels of sound could cause tinnitus or hearing loss among the troops who used 3M’s dual-ended earplugs. Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common health conditions found among veterans and so it would be no surprise that the hampered ear protection provided by these earplugs are the reason why some veterans have hearing damage.
Symptoms of Tinnitus are noises in the ears and head that include:
Should You File a Lawsuit?
If you answer yes to all three of these questions then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Were you serving in the military between 2003 and 2015?
Did you use 3M dual-ended military earplugs during your service?
Have you experienced hearing loss or tinnitus?
Your symptoms of ringing in the ear or hearing loss could be associated with the use of the 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs. Contact KBA Attorneys today in order to learn more about receiving compensation for your injuries. Our experienced veterans disability lawyers will help you with a free case evaluation. The brave men and women who serve our military are owed any compensation for any service-related injuries, so let the professional lawyers from KBA Attorneys help you get what is owed.