If you are a veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq between 2003 and 2015, you may be the victim of defective ear plugs sold to the military by 3M. These Combat Arms™ ear plugs have been found to have design defects which may have resulted in partial hearing loss, total hearing loss, tinnitus, ringing in the ears or buzzing in the ears. These types of ear problems can be extremely serious, leading to an inability to participate in conversations, which, in turn, can lead to social isolation, depression and even cognitive decline. The ear plugs in question were sold to the military by 3M, who bought Aearo Technologies (the original manufacturer of the ear plugs) in 2008.
Was 3M and Aearo Aware of the Combat Arms™ Ear Plug Design Flaws? It is alleged that 3M and Aearo were aware of the design flaws associated with the ear plugs as early as the year 2000 yet continued selling the defective ear plugs to the military. The Combat Arms™ ear plugs are constructed with a dual-ended design which allows them to be used in the traditional manner or flipped over to allow normal hearing while still offering protection from explosion and gunfire noise. The Combat Arms™ ear plugs were too short for normal insertion, however, causing them to loosen, rendering them virtually useless.
Although 3M has agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations of flawed Combat Arms™ ear plugs, the company is admitting no wrongdoing. Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler states the DOJ is “committed to protecting the men and women serving in the U.S. military from defective products and fraudulent conduct.” The defective military ear plugs injury lawsuits filed against 3M—a Minnesota-based company—were brought under qui tam (whistleblower) provisions of the False Claims Act. Because the ability of our military to serve depends heavily on properly-constructed safety equipment, this issue highlights a serious problem.
Many Military Veterans Dealing with Hearing Loss and Tinnitus - According to an AARP study, there are currently more than 2.7 million veterans receiving disability benefits for tinnitus, partial hearing loss or total hearing loss, and, in fact, the top service-related medical issue for military veterans is related to hearing issues rather than traumatic brain injury, missing limbs or even PTSD. Many believe these numbers are even higher, since military service members are routinely exposed to loud noises—a problem 3M and Aearo claimed a solution for when selling their Combat ear plugs to the military. In addition to taking part in the 3M settlement, veterans may also be eligible for VA disability for hearing loss, following a hearing loss VA rating.
Getting the Help You Need from a Combat Arm™s Ear Plugs Injury Lawyer - If you have suffered partial hearing loss, total hearing loss, tinnitus hearing loss, ringing in the ears or buzzing in the ears after serving in Afghanistan or Iraq between the years 2003 and 2015, you could benefit from speaking to a defective military ear plugs injury lawyer regarding a Combat Arms™ ear plugs injury lawsuit. Your Combat Arms™ ear plugs injury lawyer can answer your questions and guide you through the process for a defective military ear plugs injury lawsuit.