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Defective Earplug Lawsuits Piling Up

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Hundreds of individual lawsuits are filed after 3M agreed to pay the U.S. Government $9.1million to settle a “false claims act” lawsuit -- none of which went to military veterans suffering with hearing loss due to 3M’s defective Combat Arms Earplugs. And

Grand Rapids, MIMilitary veterans nationwide are hopeful that they can bring to court an injury you cannot see and prove why they cannot hear too well. More than 600 military service members have filed defective earplug lawsuits against 3M, the manufacturer.

Many branches of the military between 2003 and 2015 used Combat Arms Earplugs, and the lawsuits claim—as did the government whistleblower lawsuit-- that 3M knew early on that its earplugs were defective.

Kenyon from Radcliff, Kentucky told LawyersandSettlements that he had several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and conducted live fire ranges. “I have been diagnosed with tinnitus. I still have ringing in the ears, sometimes I can’t hear anything depending on the tone, and also earaches,” he says.

Charles from El Paso knows the earplugs he was issued “were not protecting the ear canals…they were not sized right and they would fall out if you were issued the wrong size. I could always hear my weapon.” The earplugs did, however, give the illusion of protection.

War Hero and Hearing Loss Advocate


3M made “dual ended” combat arms earplugs that were supposed to seal and protect against the hazard of combat noise. Retired 1st Sgt. Matt Eversmann told WBALTV.com that he has to constantly turn up the volume on the TV to hear it—even with hearing aids in both ears. Eversmann is the decorated war hero portrayed by Josh Hartnett in the 2001 film "Black Hawk Down”. Eversmann said he lost 60 percent of his hearing during the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993.

"The battlefield is a loud place. It's a loud place to work. Gunfire is loud. Machine-gun fire is loud. Bombs are loud. Mortars are loud and (improvised explosive devices) are loud, to the point where your molars will shake at the sounds you experience on the battlefield," Eversmann told the TV station.

Soldiers report hearing loss and tinnitus, which Eversmann describes as "constant, annoying, like bad staticky radio turned up really loud on both sides of your head.”

Fit to Serve Campaign


Eversmann used the 3M earplugs between 2006 and 2007 but his hearing was damaged back in 1993 so he isn’t involved in a lawsuit. Today he is an advocate for veterans and the National Spokesperson for the
“Fit to Serve” Campaign.

The two most prevalent service-related disabilities for Veterans are hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “The effect of hearing loss can be devastating to a Veteran, particularly as they adjust to a civilian lifestyle, and may contribute to depression, heightened stress, fatigue, and other challenges. For many Veterans, a lack of proper hearing healthcare exacerbates these symptoms, leading to strained relationships and inability to maintain a career.”

“Fit to Serve” says that despite the VA’s best efforts, the number of Veterans lacking adequate hearing healthcare services is quickly surpassing the VA’s ability to respond. Veterans often face long wait times to get appointments, extensive travel to the nearest VA clinic and limited follow-up care. Fit to Serve is working to lift existing restrictions in order to allow all qualified hearing aid specialists to, alongside the hearing professionals of the VA, provide hearing healthcare services to America’s Veterans.

Eversmann encourages soldiers with hearing loss and/or tinnitus to file a defective earplugs lawsuit. "If they wore the defective hearing protection, they should throw their hat in this and have it investigated, because all you're going to get from the VA, at best, is a new hearing aid," Eversmann said.

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.

READ ABOUT 3M DEFECTIVE EARPLUGS LAWSUITS

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