Did you sustain hearing loss after using the military standard-issue 3M combat earplugs? If so, you may be able to pursue compensation for your damages.
In Florida last month, the first of three bellwether trials began. Bellwether trials help attorneys for both parties determine the viability of pursuing other comparable cases. If the plaintiffs in the bellwether trials are successful, then it could indicate the potential outcomes of future similar cases.
If you have a valid case, it is still possible for you to join this multidistrict litigation (MDL) – even though the first bellwether trial is already in process.
At Jay Trucks & Associates, our experienced Grand Rapids defective products lawyers offer a free consultation to talk about your situation and determine whether you may have a case. If you are a military veteran and meet the following criteria, you may be eligible:
- Used government-issued 3M combat arms earplugs
- Served in the Military Reserves or any branch of the U.S. Armed forces between 2003 and 2015
- Worked as a Department of Defense (DOD) contractor between 2003 and 2015
- Do not have any preexisting hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Received a medical diagnosis for hearing loss within one year of your discharge – or while you were still on active duty
History of 3M Combat Earplugs
The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2s) were specifically developed for military service members by Aearo before being bought out by 3M in 2008. This dual-ended earplug provides two different purposes for the wearers.
When wearers insert the olive-colored end of the device into the ear canal, the earplugs block out all noise. However, if the yellow end is inserted, it significantly reduces dangerous levels of noise but still allows service members to hear lower volume sounds nearby. This was important on noisy battlefields and at other times when soldiers needed to hear commands and communicate with each other.
Because of their certified success, 3M obtained an exclusive contract with the military, and these earplugs became standard issue for all branches of the military.
What Went Wrong
The biggest problem of the original design for service members was that they did not fit well under their combat helmets. 3M did a redesign to enable a better fit – which was done by making the stem of the earplug shorter. This solution seemed to resolve the former issues.
However, because the stem was shorter, it no longer went far enough into the ear canal to create an airtight seal – a must for the earplugs to work properly. In addition to not creating a proper seal, the earplugs were too loose and often fell out. These poorly redesigned earplugs no longer provided the necessary protection to service members, causing hearing loss and tinnitus for thousands of military veterans.
Did 3M Know About the Defective Earplugs and Resulting Dangers?
There is strong evidence that indicates 3M knew or should have known about the defects as far back as 2000, despite 3M’s repeated claims of no wrongdoing.
In 2016, 3M and Aearo Technologies were sued by a competitor, Moldex-Metric, Inc., in a whistleblower lawsuit. This lawsuit alleges that 3M and Aearo knowingly defrauded the government by:
- Knowingly selling defectively redesigned CAEv2s by certifying false claims about their effectiveness
- Failing to disclose the defects, despite being aware of them.
- Providing an inferior device to the government, who paid for the protective earplugs they thought they were getting
- Causing the government to incur significant and ongoing damages due to the medical costs of treating injured service members
3M settled this case for $9.1 million in damages, despite denying all allegations. For plaintiffs, this legal process also served as a fact-finding mission. The lawsuit revealed strong evidence that 3M not only likely knew the earplugs were defective, but also falsified test results about their safety.
Compensation That Could Be Available
Military veterans who meet the criteria and have a valid case may be able to recover various types of compensation, including:
- Related costs for medical care
- Hearing aids and other medical devices
- Lost wages
- Reduced future earning capacity
- Surgical interventions that may be required
- Rehabilitative therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
Deadlines apply for pursuing a claim, so call today to take advantage of our free case review.
Contact Our Firm for Trusted Legal Help
At Jay Trucks, we have representatives standing by to take your call 24/7. There is no risk or obligation, and your initial consultation is completely free.
Our team of legal professionals is dedicated to advocating for the injured throughout Michigan. When product manufacturers put profit before safety, they should be held financially accountable.
Call our law offices to discuss your potential legal options today. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs or fees. We do not collect payment for our services until the case concludes and you receive compensation.
Millions Recovered. (800) 762-8623