If you served in the US military between 2003 and 2015, you may have been exposed to danger of hearing loss, imbalance or tinnitus. Our personal injury lawyers at Oshan and Associates are currently investigating claims against The 3M company for its fraud and gross negligence regarding the 3M Combat Arms Earplug.
The company previously agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the US Military. However, the company did not disclose the defects that decreased the hearing protection at the time of settlement. Now, hundreds of veterans are suing the company for gross negligence leading to hearing loss and loss of balance in those who used the earplugs.
If you used the 3M earplugs at all and are still in service, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against The 3M company. We are currently interviewing veterans that were affected by the use of these defective earplugs.
Contact us at Oshan and Associates if you have been diagnosed with hearing imbalance, tinnitus or any other hearing problems after using the 3M earplugs. We can help you recover fair compensation.
3M Company, and its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies were contracted to supply their Combat Arms earplugs to the military between 2003 and 2008. Aearo Technologies had designed the earplugs, which were touted to protect servicemen and servicewomen from the loud noises that often dominate a combat environment.
Military personnel are constantly exposed to high levels of noise while on duty. As a result, noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus are the second most prevalent service-connected disabilities. As of 2014, reports indicated that more than 900,000 veterans were receiving disability benefits for hearing loss. Another 1.3 million were receiving compensation for tinnitus.
Considering the risk to hearing involved in combat and military environments, the Defense Logistics Agency entered into an exclusive contract with Aearo Technologies for the supply of the earplugs in 2003.
However, according to a lawsuit filed against 3M company, which took over Aearo Technologies, the company knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military. According to the lawsuit, filed by Moldex-Metric Inc., the company committed fraud against the government by selling earplugs it knew was defective. The lawsuit asserted that thousands of soldiers were likely to have suffered significant hearing loss and tinnitus due to the defects.
Although 3M admitted no wrongdoing, the company agreed to settle the allegations for $1.9 million in July 2018, according to the US Department of Justice.
Now, hundreds of servicemen and servicewomen who used the allegedly defective earplugs in service between 2003 and 2015 are suing the company after they suffered hearing damage. The lawsuits allege that 3M Company sold a product it knew was defective and failed to warn users of the defect or provide proper instructions for their use.
Alleging gross negligence, the lawsuits are claiming compensation for the hearing loss, tinnitus and loss of balance suffered by those who used the earplugs.
3M’s Combat Arms earplugs were touted and expected to protect the hearing of US soldiers in combat and service environment. The dual-sided earplugs had two sides: an olive colored side and a yellow colored side.
The olive colored side was intended to block out all sound once inserted into the ear. The yellow-colored side was intended to let in mild sounds (such as commands from friendly soldiers), but block out loud noises like explosions.
However, the lawsuit alleges that the design of the earplugs was defective. It claims that the buds were too short and due to this, the seal of each plug inside the ear became loose although this could not be detected by the user. Once loose, the earplugs could not provide any protection from loud noises and potential damage to hearing.
In addition, it was alleged that Aearo Technologies’ employees knew about the defects as early as 2000 when testing of the plugs was completed. This knowledge is also alleged to have come to the notice of later employees, including those who joined the company in 2008. Despite this knowledge, no warning was given to users and no recall was made.
Apart from this, the company is also alleged to have falsified its third party reports to indicate that the earplugs were safer than they actually were. Aearo was required to meet a specific Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) rating requirement to be eligible to supply the military. The NRR required for the olive colored side was 25-40 decibels while it was 0-25 decibels for the yellow.
However, when Aearo conducted initial testing for the earplugs, they found the olive end reached an NRR of only 10.9 decibels on average. The yellow end reached an NRR of -2 as well. At that rating, the yellow end actually amplified noise instead of reducing it. The company retested the earplugs after folding back the flange, and this enabled them achieve an NRR of 22 for the olive end and 0 for the yellow. But the company failed to communicate this to the military.
To understand if you are eligible for the 3M Combat Arms earplugs, see if you meet the following criteria:
How do you know you have combat-related hearing issues? There are several symptoms that may point to the existence of one or more of these issues. According to the Department of Defense, symptoms of these hearing issues include:
If you suffer any of these symptoms, reach out a doctor immediately and contact Oshan and Associates for professional help.
The skilled and experienced attorneys at Oshan and Associates are prepared to help veterans hurt by 3M Company’s defective earplugs. You have fought for and made a stand for your country when it mattered. We will stand up and fight on your behalf.
We have helped countless claimants in your position fight these kids of cases and recover fair compensation. With over 20 years’ experience standing up to big bullies, we know how to approach these types of cases.
You have absolutely no risk in working with us. Concerned about our fees? You have no worries. We work on contingency which means we don’t get paid unless you win. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.