Vets Impacted by 3M Earplug Defect: Legal Options for Hearing Loss
Thousands of military veterans who served between 2003 and 2015 may have suffered hearing loss because they used defective combat earplugs made by 3M.
Affected military veterans may be entitled to bring a lawsuit related to the hearing loss or tinnitus they suffered as a result.
If you or a family member served in the military between 2003 and 2015 and used 3M’s Aearo Technology Combat Arms earplugs, please reach out to one of our VA attorneys to discuss your legal options. Veterans, current soldiers and military contractors may be eligible for compensation from 3M.
Even if you have not been diagnosed with hearing loss, you may have a claim. Symptoms of hearing loss may include difficulty understanding people when they are speaking, trouble hearing on the phone, ringing in the ears, the sense that other people are mumbling. Many people with hearing loss may also avoid social situations because they can’t make out conversation in noisy environments.
The earplugs, manufactured by 3M and sold to the Defense Logistics Agency, were known to be defective. But they were still provided to combat troops.
The earplugs didn’t maintain a tight seal and allowed dangerously loud sounds to slip through without the wearer knowing, according to Military Times newspaper. As a result, thousands of combat troops who used 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs are now suffering from hearing loss, tinnitus, loss of balance and other medical conditions.
3M previously agreed to pay a $9.1 million settlement as part of a False Claims Act case brought by the U.S. Justice Department. In that action, 3M was alleged to have knowingly sold its earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency without disclosing defects that decreased the hearing protection.
Recently, a first round of civil lawsuits have been filed by military veterans against 3M in Texas. More lawsuits are expected to be filed by other affected military veterans. These cases could eventually turn into a class action against 3M. The company could be found liable and ordered to pay not only for veterans’ medical treatments but also for punitive damages because of its gross negligence in providing defective equipment to U.S. troops.
According to the initial lawsuits, “Since late 2003, 3M touted its Combat Arms earplugs as capable of allowing users to hear commands from friendly soldiers and approaching enemy combatants, unimpaired, in the same way as if they had nothing in their ears.” However, 3M employees knew as early as 2000 that the ear plugs were defective.
3M discontinued the earplugs in 2015, but by that point, it had sold 6.75 million pairs to the U.S. military. A staggering number of U.S. troops may have been injured as a result.
Please contact us if you are a current soldier, military veteran or military contractor who served between 2003 and 2015. You may be entitled to compensation if you have experienced any of the following:
- Partial or total hearing loss
- tinnitus, frequency or ringing in the ears
- Headaches, dizziness or loss of balance
- Chronic tinnitus
- Other symptoms of hearing loss
Filing a claim against 3M will not affect your VA Disability benefits. Our experienced VA and personal injury attorneys will work hard on your behalf to ensure you receive the medical treatment, benefits and other compensation you are entitled.