Combat Arms™ Ear Plugs Injury Lawsuits: Who Was Hurt?

Defective Ear Plugs Sold to the Military May have Injured Thousands of U.S. Soldiers

The thousands and thousands of American war veterans who routinely place their lives on the line to protect our nation’s freedom may have been victims of a government contractor who was more interested in making money than in the health and welfare of our troops. Veterans who were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2015 were routinely issued Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ ear plugs (CAEv2). These ear plugs—which were recently discontinued—placed our soldiers at risk for ringing in the ears, buzzing in the ears, tinnitus, partial hearing loss and/or total hearing loss due to a dual-ended design which allowed the ear plugs to be used in the traditional manner or flipped over to provide normal hearing while still offering hearing protection.

Total Hearing Loss, Partial Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Associated with Exposure to Loud Noises Exposure to harmful noises such as explosions and gunfire are common for soldiers, however these sounds can be extremely harmful, damaging sensitive structures in the inner ear and leading to noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. Noise-induced hearing loss can be the result of a one-time exposure to an intense sound such as an explosion, or through continuous exposure to loud sounds, such as gunfire.

Sound is measured in units known as decibels; a normal conversation is about 60 decibels and the humming of a refrigerator is about 45 decibels. Sounds less than 75 decibels—even after long exposure—are unlikely to cause hearing loss. Long or repeated exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can definitely cause hearing loss. The decibel level of firearms is about 150, while the decibel level of an explosion can peak at 210 decibels, which is the reason soldiers are issued military-grade ear plugs.

Was 3M Aware of the Flawed Design of Combat Arms™ Ear Plugs? Unfortunately, the Combat Arms™ ear plugs were too short for proper insertion, causing them to loosen in many soldiers and rendering them virtually useless. This then exposed our men and women in the military to hearing damage. Perhaps the worst part of this issue is the fact that although 3M has admitted no wrongdoing—while agreeing to a $9.1 million settlement—it is believed 3M, as well as their predecessor, Aearo Technologies, was aware of the ear plug design problems as early as 2000. It was during that time that the 3M Combat Arms™ ear plugs failed safety tests yet continued to be marketed to the military.

Whistleblower Provisions of the False Claims Act Brought Combat Arms™ Ear Plug Design Flaws to Light Whistleblower provisions (qui tam) of the False Claims Act allows private parties to sue on behalf of the government when it is believed false claims for government funds exist. Frank Robey, the director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit stated that when the safety of our military is at stake, his agents would “respond robustly.”  

Defective Military Ear Plugs Injury LawyerIf you served in the military between 2003 and 2015, were issued ear plugs during that time, and now suffer from permanent hearing loss or tinnitus you could be entitled to compensation from 3M. Speaking to a Combat Arms™ ™ ear plugs injury lawyer can be extremely beneficial during this difficult time as you may be eligible for a defective military ear plugs injury lawsuit. The eventual outcome of your Combat Arms™ ear plugs injury lawsuit can benefit significantly by having an experienced ear plugs injury attorney by your side during this difficult time.

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Author: Andrew Sullo
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Andrew Sullo

Andrew SulloAndrew Sullo

Andrew Sullo is a National Trial Lawyer's Top 100 Selection for 2013-2018. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice.

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