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Defective Earplugs Linked to Hearing Loss and Damage


The military relies on supplies to help them complete their missions effectively and safely. However, according to new complaints and lawsuits, the 3M Military Combat Arms Earplug or the CAEv2 degraded in quality over time and exposed the wearers to hearing damage. Veterans rely on earplugs to prevent hearing damage associated with explosions and gunfire and are often provided military-issued earplugs.

The military relies on supplies to help them complete their missions effectively and safely. However, according to new complaints and lawsuits, the 3M Military Combat Arms Earplug or the CAEv2 degraded in quality over time and exposed the wearers to hearing damage. Veterans rely on earplugs to prevent hearing damage associated with explosions and gunfire and are often provided military-issued earplugs.

About the 3M Earplugs

The 3m earplugs came with a dual-ended design, meaning that a user could use them like traditional earplugs or use the other side to allow for normal hearing with eardrum protection from gunfire and explosion. For many users, however, these earplugs came loose over time and didn’t provide the promised protection.

Whistleblower Raises Complaints of 3M Earplug Defects

Whistleblower Raises Complaints of 3M Earplug Defects

A July 2018 settlement with 3M Corp., and the Department of Justice involved a $9.1 million payment based on whistleblower allegations. In that False Claims Act case, the whistleblower argued that the manufacturers knew about the defects and continued to sell the earplugs to the military in the U.S. The whistleblower said that 3M became aware of the problems in 2000 but did not warn the government or the military about the concerns.

That lawsuit accused the company of selling the items even though the defendant knew the earplugs were too short to provide a firm fit inside the wearer’s ear.

That lawsuit and resulting settlement argued that 3M had a responsibility to notify the U.S. government about the defects prior to the contract finalization and that failing to do so left veterans at risk.

When an earplug is loose and doesn’t stay fitted during exercises or combat, significant hearing loss can occur. Between 2003 and 2012, these defective 3M earplugs were the only attenuation options available to servicemembers. Most branches supplied these as standard issue, meaning that many wearers could have sustained severe hearing loss.

Although the earplugs are no longer in use, it’s believed that thousands suffered from hearing problems due to the defective 3M earplugs.

Whistleblower Raises Complaints of 3M Earplug Defects

Symptoms of Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Tinnitus and hearing loss are some of the most common disabilities claimed by veterans during and after their service. It’s estimated that over two million veterans already get disability benefits for hearing loss.

Due to the long use period for these earplugs, a servicemember might not be aware that they have hearing loss because of the defective earplugs.

Some of the most common signs of hearing loss or tinnitus include:
• A buzzing or ringing in the ears shortly after being exposed to noise
• You have difficulty understanding what a person is saying shortly after being exposed to noise
• You struggle to hear things properly because background noise is overwhelming
• You feel as though your ears are “full” after leaving a crowded or noisy area

Symptoms of Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Are You Eligible for Compensation?

Your hearing loss might be the fault of defective 3M earplugs.

Some servicemembers who used these earplugs might be able to file legal action or even recover compensation for their injuries.

Those who are eligible include:
• Veterans who served between 2003-2015
• Those who wore the 3M defective earplugs during their training or active service
• Those who suffered from tinnitus or permanent hearing loss

If you suffered hearing damage due to defective 3M earplugs, you could be entitled to compensation. To learn more, discuss the specifics of your case with a Wisconsin defective product attorney at Gruber Law today.

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