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Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit

In July 2018, the American multinational corporation 3M settled a whistleblower lawsuit brought by the federal government alleging that the company knowingly supplied defective Combat Arms Earplugs to the US military. 3M was accused of violating the False Claims Act by selling the defective earplugs, falsifying test results and not disclosing the design defect that exposed the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan from hearing loss during the period of 2003 to 2015.


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Combat Earplugs

The CAEv2 earplugs were used by the military to protect their hearing. Instead, the earplugs exposed soldiers to hearing loss because the defective design prevented the devices from maintaining a tight fit. The short stem would dislodge and users were unaware that they weren’t adequately protected.

3M designed the hearing safety equipment as being dual-ended, so they could be flipped for more protection around gunfire or explosions. Users could –purportedly— reduce or block intense noise without obstructing quieter sounds such as nearby voices. The Combat Earplugs were sold to the US military so that users could hear low-level sounds that were essential to their safety while blocking high-level noises like explosions and gunshots.

Aearo Technologies, Inc. originally designed the earplugs. 3M bought the company in 2008 and then hired Aearo employees to develop and test the defective Combat Earplugs. Those lab technicians that tested the earplugs and the scientists who supervised and documented the testing are still employed by 3M.

Hearing Loss in Veterans

Aearo knew of the defect at least as early as 2000, according to the qui tam lawsuit. Thousands of soldiers experienced ringing or buzzing in their ears, which also created a risk to their fellow military servicemen and women. In 2014, 933,333 veterans received disability benefits for hearing impairment and 1.3 million received disability compensation for tinnitus – a condition that is difficult to diagnose and there is no cure. Hearing loss is the most common service-connected disability among US veterans.

Qui Tam 3M Lawsuit

The $9.1 million dollar settlement brought against 3M and Aearo by the US government stemmed from a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the companies fraudulently claimed that their CAEv2earplugs met specific safety specifications. Both companies apparently knew the devices were not long enough to adequately insert into some soldiers’ ears. The complaint further claimed that test results were falsified in order to deceive the government into believing the earplugs complied with mandatory safety requirements. The whistleblower lawsuit was brought in 2016 under the False Claims Act by Moldex-Metric, Inc., a 3M competitor. This act allows private parties to sue on behalf of the government in cases of fraud. As part of the settlement, Moldex-Metric will receive $1.9 million, according to the Department of Justice .

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that 3M and Moldex-Metric have sued each other over several years. 3M accused Moldex of infringing on several of its earplug patents, while Moldex countersued, accusing 3M of lying and falsely making allegations about earplug products that predated 3M versions. Moldex further alleged in its lawsuits that a 3M dual-ended earplug had failed to pass certain safety tests, which violated its military sales contracts.

The case is United States ex rel. Moldex-Metric v. 3M Company, Case No. 3:16-cv-1533-MBS (D.S.C.). The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Veterans File a Hearing Loss/Tinnitus Claim

The massive $9.1million settlement reimburses the government for the public funds paid to the companies. If you are a veteran – or you know a veteran— with hearing problems and you were active in any branch of the military between 2003 and 2015, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the earplug manufacturer. If you want to be compensated for medical bills, lost wages, pain and more, contact an experienced product liability attorney to help you file a claim.

3M Combat Arms Defective Earplugs Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered similar damages or injuries, please fill in our form and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
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More 3M Earplug Lawsuits Filed by Veterans Nationwide
More 3M Earplug Lawsuits Filed by Veterans Nationwide
January 25, 2020
Santa Clara From Minnesota to Texas to California, about 2,000 defective earplug lawsuits made by the 3M company and Aero Technologies (bought by 3M) have been filed by U.S. veterans, many of whom suffer tinnitus and permanent hearing loss. These lawsuits have been pouring in since 3M agreed in the summer of 2018  to pay U.S. military branches $9.1 million to settle government allegations that the Maplewood-based company supplied defective earplugs.

Another Lawsuit Fired at 3M combat earplug maker.
Another Lawsuit Fired at 3M combat earplug maker.
September 16, 2019
Santa Clara, CA: A former member of the U.S. Navy SEABEES adds one more lawsuit to hundreds of others filed by veterans nationwide against 3M Corporation, claiming that the company falsified testing documents and knowingly manufactured and distributed 3M combat arms defective earplugs to the U.S. Military.

Veterans with Hearing Loss Chucked 3M Defective Earplugs During Deployment
Veterans with Hearing Loss Chucked 3M Defective Earplugs During Deployment
August 6, 2019
Kalamazoo, MI: Brian is a former Marine Corps combatant diagnosed with hearing loss and tinnitus. “I served three tours in Iraq and many training missions where I was a forward observer of artillery, heavy guns, and aircraft ordnance. These 3M earplugs were my standard issue and we were also given no instruction on use or efficacy,” says Brian. “I was unaware that this hearing protection was defective until I read about 3M defective earplug lawsuits online.”


Posted by

While on Army active duty from 2000-2005 and deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003-2004 utilizing ear protection issued by said branch. I have been diagnosed with tinnitus, hearing loss, and severally scarred eardrums. How does this lawsuit for this particular thing work in conjunction with the VA compensation of this particular loss ?

Posted by

I am a vetren diagnosed with tinnitus I was in the army from 2010-2014 and deployed 2012-2013. I am seeing if I can file for the 3m ear plugs

Posted by

USAF, Retired, effective 31December2006

Posted by

I was deployed to Iraw in 2003 and 2005 as well as deployments to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009.

I have been stationed on airfields as well as have supported mechanized units and aviation assets. I have used the combat earplugs during my deployments. I know that my hearing has progressively gotten worse ove time.

Posted by

I have had significant hearing loss since I joined the military in 2013 and used these on multiple occasions when on the range to driving vehicles.


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