We rely on the brave members of America’s military to protect us at home and abroad. In order to do their jobs, these soldiers must be able to rely on their training and equipment in stressful situations. A series of recent lawsuits against manufacturing giant 3M highlights a sobering failure to safely equip our troops.
According to hundreds of military veterans who used 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2), the earplugs failed to protect their hearing. In 2018, 3M paid $9 million to settle allegations by the Department of Defense. However, this settlement does not adequately compensate individual service members who were affected by the defective earplugs.
What’s Wrong With 3M’s Combat Earplugs?
These earplugs, which were required for use in combat and during domestic training exercises, were designed to have two functions: to block all sound and to muffle explosions and gunfire while allowing soldiers to hear conversations and commands. Due to a design defect, however, the earplugs did not fully protect soldiers’ hearing. Even worse, court documents allege that 3M knew about the defect as early as 2000, but failed to warn the military.
The defective plugs have since been discontinued, but the decision came too late for hundreds of veterans who experienced hearing problems, including:
- Permanent hearing loss that may require the use of hearing aids
- Tinnitus, or permanent ringing in the ears
- Chronic ear pain
- Other ear problems, which may require long-term medical treatment
These issues can be life-altering for soldiers. “All I hear is ringing if there’s no noise around me,” one veteran told CBS News. “If I do not have noise around me, it’s maddening. It is torture.”
Who May Have Used Defective Earplugs?
Millions of soldiers may have been exposed to potential hearing damage because of defective 3M earplugs. To qualify for compensation, veterans and service members must prove that they:
- Served in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015
- Used military-issued 3M Combat Arms Earplugs
- Experienced hearing loss or other medical issues caused by the earplugs
- Do not have another medical condition that could cause similar hearing problems
Military engagements during which these earplugs were used include:
- The Iraq War
- War in Afghanistan
- Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
- War in northwest Pakistan (part of the war on terror)
- War in Somalia
- American-led intervention in Iraq (2014-2017)
- American-led intervention in Syria (2014 to present)
- Yemeni Civil War (2015 to present)
- American intervention in Libya (2011, 2015 to present)
You Fought For Us. Let Us Fight For Your Rights.
The personal injury attorneys of Farmer, Cline & Campbell, PLLC, are grateful to military veterans for their service. We are proud to be able to help them protect their legal rights after they have suffered injuries on duty. If you or someone you love has experienced hearing loss, tinnitus or other symptoms of hearing damage after serving in the military, we encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation. Please contact us online or call 304-881-0637 to speak with a lawyer.