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3M to Pay Out Over $9 Million to Military Personnel Affected by Defective Ear Plugs

In 2018, a defense contracting company known as 3M agreed to pay out over $9 million in damages after its ear plugs were found to be defective.

The allegations first surfaced in a lawsuit on behalf of the US government, thanks to the provisions of the False Claims Act, and allege that from 2003-2015, the company, as well as its predecessor Aero Technologies, sold Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to the US military, allegedly fully knowing that they were flawed. According to the suit, the company supposedly knew about the design error as early as 2000, yet, despite this knowledge, continued to sell the plugs to the US military.

Intended to reduce the level of noise and protect military member’s hearing, testing that was done on the dual-sided plugs showed a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 0, indicating that they had no benefits. In fact, the design of the ear plugs actually caused them to loosen within the ear, allowing more noise to penetrate the ear canal, completely defeating its intended purpose. The plugs contained two colors: olive and yellow. When the olive end was inserted into the ear, the plugs were supposed to perform like a normal ear plug: blocking out surrounding sound. However, those wearing the plugs with the yellow end inserted in expected the plugs to block out loud, deafening war noises brought upon by guns and other ammunition, while still allowing quiet noises such as whispering to filter through. The US alleged:

“3M, and its predecessor Aero, knew that the CAEv2 was too short for proper insertion in the users’ ears and…3M did not disclose this information to the United States and delivered the CAEv2 to the United States knowing that the product contained defects…”

Victims of the faulty plugs reported that they suffered from both hearing loss, as well as tinnitus. According to reports, hearing loss is a resounding side effect of war, and countless veterans suffer from it for the rest of their lives. Tinnitus, the perception of ringing within the ears, is a painful condition that is often caused by long term exposure to loud noises. Many military personnel who used 3M’s ear plugs also suffer from this disorder.

How You Can Get Help

Since this shocking bombshell began making headlines, thousands of sufferers have come forward and told their stories of how the carelessness of 3M and Aero’s actions have changed their lives forever. Many personal injury law firms have begun representing veterans and active military personnel. If you feel that your life has been affected by the negligence of these companies, contact Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C. today at 1-800-LAW-2000.