Members of our Military who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2003 and 2015 could be victims of defective ear plugs sold by 3M to the military. 3M was the exclusive manufacturer of ear plugs for the U.S. military for those deployed, therefore veterans who have been in an Iraq or Afghanistan war zone likely used these black and yellow ear plugs. The Minnesota-based 3M Company, as well as its predecessor company Aearo Technologies, sold dual-ended Combat Arms™ Ear plugs Version 2 (CAEv2) to the Department of Defense. It is alleged that 3M and Aearo were aware the ear plugs were too short for proper insertion into users’ ears, causing the earplugs to loosen, and rendering them virtually useless.
The Combat Arms™ ear plugs were given to thousands of service members over the 13-year period, and it is yet unknown just how many veterans suffer buzzing in the ears, ringing in the ears, tinnitus, total hearing loss or partial hearing loss as a direct result of these defective ear plugs. Frank Robey, head of the Major Procurement Fraud Unit at the Army’s Criminal Investigative Command noted that properly made safety equipment is vital to the safety of our troops and vital to our military readiness. The Army is currently working to develop wearable ear plugs which would allow soldiers to communicate over their radios while at the same time protecting their ears from weapon fire, explosions and military vehicle noises, however until these ear plugs are perfected, our soldiers are dependent on those supplied by government contractors like 3M.
Was 3M Aware of the Ear Plug Defects? A $9.1 million settlement announced in July resolved allegations that 3M violated the False Claims Act by selling the defective Combat Arms™ ear plugs to the military despite knowing the ear plugs were too short for proper insertion. 3M failed to disclose a clear design defect to the military, rather continued to sell the Combat Arms™ ear plugs for as long as possible. A 3M brochure claims the Combat Arms™ ear plugs meet the “demanding hearing protection needs of the armed forces...,” protecting against the loud, steady noises seen in combat areas. Unfortunately, these ear plugs did not protect the hearing of our soldiers, resulting in many cases of tinnitus, partial hearing loss, total hearing loss, ringing in the ears and buzzing in the ears.
Lawsuit Filed Under the Whistleblower Provisions of the False Claims Act - The lawsuit was filed under the whistleblower or qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to sue on behalf of the government when it is believed a contractor submitted false claims for government funds. The whistleblower in this case will receive $1,911.000. If you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between the years 2003 and 2015, and suffered hearing loss, you could be entitled to take part in a defective military ear plugs injury lawsuit.
Your defective military ear plugs injury lawyer can help you determine whether your hearing issues are related to the defective Combat Arms™ ear plugs. Perhaps you have hearing loss in one ear, ringing in both ears, or qualify for VA disability for hearing loss. Having a Combat Arms™ ear plugs injury lawyer by your side can help ensure you are compensated for your tinnitus or hearing loss. Contact a Sullo & Sullo defective military ear plugs injury lawyer today.