June 25, 2019

How Can I File a 3M Earplugs Lawsuit?

In a surprising twist in the recent 3M Earplug Lawsuit the company agreed to a $9.1 million settlement, without admitting liability, to resolve allegations that they knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military.

It is often the unseen injuries and damage that creates the worst problems in military personnel and veterans, and nothing more so than hearing loss and tinnitus, or loss of balance. It is the most common injury in combat veterans.

Department of Justice vs. 3M Company Earplugs Lawsuit

The Minnesota based 3M Company, and its predecessor Aearo Technologies, Inc. claimed that their dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2) would protect the ears of military personnel from noise pollution above 85 decibels, such as loud explosions and close-range firearms, military vehicles and other operational noise, whilst allowing them to hear voices.
The U.S. Military alleged that 3M knowingly supplied faulty earplugs which did not meet the contract requirements, that they knew about the design flaws and failed tests, and did not disclose these facts:

  • Too short for proper insertion
  • Could loosen imperceptibly
  • Did not perform well for most users
  • Hampered adequate hearing protection
  • Exposed thousands of military personnel to hearing loss and tinnitus

Dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, version 2 (CAEv2), were standard-issued equipment for soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2015.

Under the whistle blower (qui tam) provisions of the False Claims Act, it was claimed that Aearo Technologies, Inc tested the earplugs as far back as 2000, which showed a zero Noise Reduction Rate (NRR), thus providing no protection against damaging noise. Despite this 3M claimed it met military standards.

Why are military personnel at higher risk?

Noise is an occupational hazard in the military; most personnel are exposed to some form of prolonger noise pollution at some stage and studies for the NIH show that active combat can increase the risk six-fold (63%).

The CDC estimates that military veterans have a 30% higher chance of hearing problems, and the VA (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs) reports that nearly 3 million veterans receive disability benefits for tinnitus and hearing loss. Current service personnel records show that 10-18% have been diagnosed with significant threshold shifts in their hearing.

You may qualify for compensation

“Companies who knowingly hide important information regarding the impact of their products should be held responsible,” according to one of the top personal injury lawyers in Michigan, Eileen Kroll. Hundreds of veterans have filed suit against 3M.

You may qualify for compensation

You may qualify if you meet the following criteria:

  • Served in the U.S. Military between the years 2003 and 2015
  • Had no documented tinnitus or hearing loss before or at the time of joining the military
  • Have no history of significant noise exposure outside the military
  • Have documented tinnitus or hearing loss after joining the military
  • No dishonorable discharge.

Not an absolute requirement, however, raising the odds:

  • Active combat duty
  • Working nearby high decibel noise for extended periods
  • Combat injuries affecting hearing, speech, or balance.
  • Head-trauma and blast-related comorbidities, e.g., speech or language problems, PTSD, dizziness or struggling to maintain your balance

You must act now to protect yourself

The timeframe for claiming justice and restitution is diminishing by the day – the statutes of limitation apply, so you need to file now if you have suffered loss or damage.

If you are a military veteran who lives in Michigan, and you have suffered hearing loss, or meet any of the criteria listed above, call Eileen Kroll, a nurse and Personal Injury trial attorney, at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) or complete the online contact form for a call-back and free case evaluation consultation.

Ms. Barry is studying Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. She has won multiple awards both for her persuasive and creative writing and has written extensively on the topics of medical malpractice law, personal and birth injury law, product liability law. When she’s not researching and writing about these topics, she edits a literary magazine and tutors students at Penn’s writing center.

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