Military Hearing Loss May Be Caused by Earplug Problems
Following a global 3M earplug settlement announced August 28, 2023, Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. is no longer pursuing new claims in this litigation.
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Hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most frequent problems reported by veterans following military service. However, it now appears that design problems with combat earplugs issued to soldiers between 2003 and 2015 may be to blame in many of these cases.
Evidence has recently been discovered that 3M Company knew for years about issues with it’s Combat Arms Earplugs, but never disclosed the problems. As a result, soldiers were issued earplugs that failed to provide the promised level of hearing protection.
Did you or a family member work or live at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between 1953 – 1987? You may be eligible for a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit settlement.
Problems with 3M Military Earplugs
Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were originally developed by Aearo Technologies, Inc., which was subsequently acquired by 3M Company. The dual-ended earplugs were designed with two sides. One side worked like a traditional earplug, while the other side is supposed to block loud noises, like explosions and jet engines, while allowing quiet noises, like an officer’s commands or an approaching vehicle. However, many soldiers are just now learning that these earplugs were defective.
In May 2016, a whistleblower lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, bringing the earplug problems to the attention of the U.S. government. The complaint was filed by a manufacturer of competing battlefield earplugs, alleging that 3M Company was failing to disclose that the earplugs were defective and may loosen in the ear, failing to provide adequate protection. In addition, the lawsuit informed the U.S. government that Aearo’s testing methods failed to meet required military standards.
Rather than conducting testing by an independent agency, Aearo provided Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) that were based on improperly skewed and methodologically unsound testing methods, further defrauding the U.S. government. The manufacturer failed to test the earplugs under conditions consistent with the fitting instructions that were provided to military users.
In July 2018, 3M Company agreed to pay $9.1 million as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice, which resolved claims that it defrauded the U.S. government. However, the company still faces much greater liability exposure from individual injury and hearing loss claims brought by former service members.
Military Earplugs Lawyers
Since information about the Justice Department settlement was announced, many veterans are just now learning that military hearing loss may be caused by earplug problems, and that they may be entitled to substantial compensation from the manufacturer.
According to a Veterans Affairs benefits report from 2017, there were at least 1.78 million vets receiving disability for tinnitus, and 1.15 million receiving benefits for hearing loss. This is one of the top medical problems faced by U.S. military veterans, and it remains unclear how many of these hearing problems may have been avoided if defective 3M earplugs had not been fraudulently sold to the government.
3M Military Earplug Lawsuit Settlement Reached
On August 28, 2023, 3M settled roughly 260,000 earplug lawsuits filed by current and former military service members for $6 billion. The agreement includes about $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in 3M shares, with payments scheduled from 2023 to 2029.
Did you or a family member work or live at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between 1953 – 1987? You may be eligible for a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit settlement