3M Combat Arms Earplugs™
Hearing loss is one of the largest medical problems facing both active servicemembers and veterans. As a result, the United States Armed Forces trusted 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, to design an effective and safe earplug for the thousands of service men and women serving in combat zones all over the world. With a dual-sided design, Combat Arms Earplugs™(CAEv2) were intended to block out loud noises while also allowing servicemembers to hear commands. However, there is mounting evidence that CAEv2 were defectively designed in that the earplugs were too short for the ear canal. Because CAEv2 could be easily dislodged, the servicemember wearing them was exposed to a high risk of permanent hearing damage.
The Problem with the CAEv2 Earplugs
CAEv2 were multi-colored and dual-sided, meaning that either end of the earplug could be inserted into the ear. The earplugs were designed such that one end would block high-level noises, such as IEDs and gunfire, while allowing the service member to hear low-level noises, such as commands and footsteps. The other end was supposed to work like normal earplugs and block or dampen all sound.
The alleged problem with CAEv2 was that they were generally too short to fully dampen noise, regardless of which end was inserted. As result, CAEv2 could easily dislodge from the ear canal. When the plugs were dislodged, damaging sound levels were no longer blocked, and the servicemember wearing the plugs was at immediate risk for permanent hearing damage.
There is evidence that suggests Aearo’s laboratory testing, conducted as early as the year 2000, confirmed that CAEv2 were too short and that they could fail to safely block loud noises. This defect was found in the controlled environment of a laboratory, which is especially concerning considering the intended use was by an active servicemember in a combat zone, where the earplugs would be much more likely to dislodge.
3M Agrees to Pay $9.1 Million After it Knowingly Sold Defective Earplugs to the US Military
In the summer of 2018, 3M settled a case with the United States Government involving CAEv2. In the case, the Government alleged that both 3M and Aearo knew for years that CAEv2 were improperly designed, and that CAEv2 would not safely block out sound for some individuals. However, the Government alleged, 3M Company and Aearo continued to sell CAEv2 long after testing showed CAEv2 could be unsafe. The Government concluded that thousands of service men and women suffered from hearing loss, and millions of dollars from the military budget were wasted on earplugs that simply did not work.
3M Has Done Nothing to Compensate Service Men and Women
Despite its settlement with the Government, 3M has taken no steps to help the thousands of service members who are now suffering from permanent hearing loss.
The attorneys at Fleming, Nolen & Jez have had the distinct pleasure of representing countless numbers of veterans in product-liability lawsuits. We have decades of experience in battling large companies, such as 3M, and we would welcome the opportunity to put that experience to work in helping you or a loved one who has suffered hearing loss because of CAEv2.
Lawsuits have already been filed for servicemembers who are suffering from hearing loss and if you are interested in having us evaluate your potential case, please fill out the short form below. The attorneys at Fleming, Nolen & Jez are already helping servicemembers suffering from hearing loss and we are here to help you as well. Please either call us or complete the short form below to have a member of our 3M legal team contact you at once. As always, the consultation is free and there will be absolutely no cost to you unless we settle your case.