3M Military Earplugs: What Went Wrong?

Military service is all about sacrifice. When you join the military, you agree to sacrifice life and limb to protect your country. You accept that. You expect that active duty may expose you to enemy fire and that you could be injured or killed. What you don’t expect —or accept or agree to—is that you could be permanently injured because a government contractor knowingly sold defective products to the U.S. government, which then issued that safety gear to you. 

This is the basic story involving 3M Company’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2, (“CAEv2”  or “3M Combat Earplugs”).

What Happened?

During the years of 2003 to 2015, a company called “3M Company” (“3M”) was the exclusive manufacturer and supplier of combat earplugs to the U.S. military (all branches). The earplugs, called “3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2)” (referred to in this post simply as “3M Combat Earplugs”) were supposed to provide unique double-sided protection to servicemen and women during training and combat.

The 3M Combat Earplugs were supposed to provide two different levels of ear protection. Inserted one way the earplugs were supposed to block out loud blasts, but still allowed the wearer to hear conversations and orders. Inserted the other way, the earplugs were supposed to block out all noise.

The problem?

The earplugs were defectively designed.

They were too short. So instead of blocking out loud blasts or all noise, the earplugs would imperceptibly move in the wearer’s ears, exposing thousands of military men and women too, and causing, hearing loss.

And 3M knew it.

In fact, 3M was charged with knowing that the earplugs were defective as far back as the year 2000 because the company 3M bought the design and manufacturing process from, Aearo Technologies knew it. And they deliberately falsified the company’s internal noise reduction rating (NRR) test results and continued selling the defective earplugs to the military anyway.

And Then What Happened?

In 2016, a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit was filed and 3M was charged with violations of the False Claims Act. 3M did not accept liability for the earplugs’ defects, but they paid a settlement of $9.1 million—to reimburse the government for the public funds it paid to the companies over the years for their defective products.

Now What?

Note that while it was (and is) military personnel who risked their lives and are the ones who have suffered hearing loss and tinnitus due to the defective earplugs, the settlement money did not go to individual military veterans or servicemen/women to compensate them for their injuries.

Instead, the $9.1 million went to the government. That means that injured veterans and/or those still serving in active duty who were injured by the defective earplugs, must seek out counsel and file their own lawsuit(s) to get the compensation they deserve.

We Fight For Our Injured Servicemen and Women in Louisiana. 

If you served in the military between 2003 and 2015 and believe you may have been injured due to defective 3M Combat Earplugs, contact us ToDay. We offer FREE consultations.  We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. So call  (225) 465-1232 or email us here.

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