Defective 3M Combat Earplugs Lawsuit

Those who serve our nation deserve our respect for their work to protect our freedom and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s safety and security. From basic training or advanced education to deployment in far-flung and sometimes dangerous corners of the world, the men and women who fight for us in a variety of ways on a daily basis are heroes who we are indebted to not just during their tour of duty but for the rest of their lives as they transition to civilian life and their status as a veteran. Especially in battle, we owe those who would lay down their lives for us nothing less than the best equipment with 100% reliability, so our men and women overseas can be as protected as possible. 

Unfortunately, many men and women in the military are all too familiar with gear malfunctions due to weather conditions, over use, or other factors that make an otherwise serviceable piece of gear stop working. For some, there are workarounds either taught by the military or through years in the field. However, another issue entirely occurs when a manufacturer knowingly sells and allows gear to be distributed which can cause injury to our men and women overseas which can then follow them into civilian life. This was the case with defective 3M combat earplugs which have contributed or caused hearing loss among our troops and veterans.

What are defective 3M combat earplugs and how have they injured servicemen, servicewomen, and veterans?

For more than a decade, from 2003 to 2015, earplugs sold by 3M to the military were not effective because they would not sit tightly within a user’s ears, something they were designed to do. The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) are purported to have caused or contributed to serious hearing loss due to their defectiveness.

How did we find out about the defectiveness of 3M combat earplugs and how long were defective earplugs used by the military?

Less than two years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice came to a settlement with 3M for $9.1 million in order to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit. Listed in federal court, the settlement states the 3M, after acquiring Aearo Technologies Inc., learned of the defective nature of the earplugs yet continued selling them to the U.S. military anyways. It further states that 3M knew that these earplugs were too short to be used effectively and for their stated purpose. 

The earplugs can be used in two ways. One is the traditional way, dampening sounds so they do not negatively impact the hearing of the individual. The other is in an “open” configuration which permits low-level sounds to enter while other, louder and more damaging sounds are kept out of a user’s ear. However, given the defect, the earplug would gradually loosen over time and fail to keep sounds out thus damaging the hearing of the user.

According to the settlement, the Department of Justice states that 3M/Aearo knew about these design issues as early as the year 2000 and did little to stop or mitigate them. Not wanting to lose a profit, 3M/Aearo launched patent infringement litigation against another company that tried to introduce a competing product to market. For more than a decade, these defective earplugs were standard issue and for almost a decade they were the only option for certain branches.

What injuries may have been caused by defective 3M combat earplugs?

Around 60% of veterans report hearing loss following their service to our nation. Almost one million veterans were receiving compensation for hearing loss-related issues as of 2014 and 1.4 million complained of and were receiving compensation for tinnitus (a ringing in the ears).

There is no single cause of hearing loss or tinnitus. Both hearing loss or tinnitus can be caused by one loud, acute sound or series of sounds (such as an explosion or intense gunfire) or prolonged exposure to sound (such as consistent background noise). Additionally, a combination of both can cause or exacerbate either ailment worsening any initial damage done to the serviceman or servicewoman.

Hearing loss among post-9/11 veterans, many who were deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, is not uncommon. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common disability connected to service in the military. It seems likely it is not an isolated case of user error which caused the 3M combat earplugs to be defective and harm those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. 

Why choose The Groth Law Firm to file a personal injury claim as a result of defective 3M combat earplugs?

Our firm is committed to getting justice for Wisconsin veterans and recently returning servicemembers. There is no reason any person who put his or her life on the line should have to live with any injury, much less preventable hearing loss caused by defective earplugs which the manufacturer knew were not adequate for the task at hand. Our personal injury attorneys have years of experience fighting for the rights of others so that no company takes advantage of those without financial recourse.

What will The Groth Law Firm charge me to file and litigate a case based on defective 3M combat earplugs?

At The Groth Law Firm, we know many Wisconsin families cannot afford to engage an attorney on an hourly basis through the sometimes lengthy legal process which can take years. Our firm doesn’t get paid unless you do so you can rest easy knowing that our legal professionals put your interests first.

Contact us today for your free evaluation and consultation

The Groth Law Firm can help you determine if you have a personal injury case based on defective 3M combat earplugs. Don’t wait another day and continue incurring expenses based on hearing loss or, worse, living with a condition that was caused by the recklessness of a company putting profits over our servicemen and servicewomen. Contact a Milwaukee Personal Injury Lawyer today at (414) 455-6981 to schedule a free consultation today.

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