Across the nation, military veterans are filing lawsuits over 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEV2.) The defective design of the 3M Combat earplugs caused them to loosen, leading to hearing damage and loss for thousands of veterans and active duty military members. 3M also failed to disclose material design defects with their earplugs for over a decade, preventing U.S. military members from seeking effective heating treatment and protection options before irreversible damage was done.
When companies like 3M recklessly endanger the health and safety of the American people, Elizabeth A. Citrin, P.C. is there to come to the people’s defense. Keep reading for more information, and contact experienced Daphne defective products attorney Elizabeth A. Citrin today for representation.
Design & Failure of Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2
Aearo Technologies, Inc. created the CAEV2 prior to being acquired by 3M back in 2008. The combat-focused earplugs became standard military issue shortly thereafter, and remained standard issue for over a decade. Designed with an attempt to satisfy all pertinent hearing needs of military personnel without requiring additional protective equipment, the earplugs were color-coded yellow for Weapons-Fire Mode and green for Closed/Constant Protection Mode. The Weapons-Fire mode plugs filtered sound selectively, restricting high-level impulsive noise while letting in lower level sound. The more intense the sound was, the more the earplugs should have restricted it. The earplugs’ Closed/Constant Protection mode restricted all sound, including constant noise from aircrafts or loud vehicles.
While 3M’s marketing materials as well as statements made to the Defense Logistics Agency insisted the CAEV2 earplugs fit all of the military’s needs, they were only effective if used correctly, and even then, they were only effective some of the time. According to reports from an anonymous whistleblower, the problem was that the earplugs were too short to be inserted correctly, causing them to loosen imperceptibly within the user’s ear. This left thousands if military personnel without working hearing protection. Because 3M did not disclose their earplugs’ fatal flaw, it is likely there are hundreds of thousands of service members across the country who do not even know they have been affected.
Hearing Protection Standards
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) sets permissible levels of noise exposure and hearing protection requirements for civilian workplaces. Under OSHA regulations, the shorter the duration an individual is exposed to a high pressure sound, the more acceptable that sound is. The most powerful sound allowed by OSHA’s ranking system is 115 decibels for less than 15 minutes. Any noise that is sustained longer than that requires an employer to provide adequate hearing protection.
In the military, service members are exposed to sounds ranging from 103 to 184 decibels daily, for hours at a time. At this noise range, sounds are capable of inducing temporary hearing loss, hearing conditions like tinnitus (a ringing in the ears,) and even permanent hearing loss. It is important for active duty military members to be able to hear well, so they can react quickly. Yet by military standards, even low level sounds can be extremely harmful, and may cause serious hearing damage without proper safety equipment. While reports indicate that 3M CAEV2 earplugs were capable of suppressing sounds up to 190 decibels when fitted properly, we now know that there were thousands of military personal who were not able to fit 3M’s plugs into their ears properly.
Hearing Loss & the Military
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s Benefits Report indicates that hearing damage is the single most common service-related disability, with 1,157,585 affected by hearing loss and 1,786,980 veterans affected by tinnitus. In 2017 alone, the VA reported 81,529 new hearing loss claims and 159,800 new tinnitus claims. According to multiple suits set in motion by the 3M whistleblower, the company is largely responsible for many of these injuries.
Litigating Hearing Loss
In May of 2016, Moldex-Metric filed a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of the United States, alleging that 3M knowingly sold faulty combat earplugs to the U.S. military. Moldes-Metric claimed that 3M was aware that its Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were too short to be inserted correctly into users’ ears, and were prone to loosening without the wearer knowing it. This constituted a violation of the False Claims Act, according to the lawsuit. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ,) 3M eventually settled this suit, agreeing to pay $9.1 million to resolve these allegations in 2018.
However, while 3M chose to settle the false advertising lawsuit brought on by the whistleblower, the individuals affected by the company’s faulty earplugs will receive no financial compensation as a result of this verdict. This is has prompted lawyers across the country to begin litigation on behalf of those injured by the 3M CAEV2 earplugs. While these attorneys are still in the early stages of litigation and trial dates are being set by the courts, 3M will have a difficult time denying the defective design of their product, based on the overwhelming amount of evidence against them.
File a 3M Military Earplug Lawsuit Today
If you or a loved one served in the military, particularly if you served in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2003 and 2015, and have experienced any hearing damage after using 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, you may eligible to pursue a legal claim with the assistance of our skilled lawyer at Elizabeth A. Citrin, P.C. It is important that we file your case as soon as possible, as deadlines for claims often vary from state to state according to statues of limitations.
While a typical workers compensation hearing loss claim would normally result in an award up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, 3M earplugs cases are different. These defective combat earplugs injured the individuals who fight for all of our protection—our military service members. Moreover, those injuries may have prevented some of those military members from continuing to serve their country as they hoped to. Individuals in similar hearing loss cases have received compensation numbering in the millions.
With the assistance of a skilled attorney, monetary damages can be awarded for reasons including:
- Past or future medical expenses, such as specialist visits, laboratory tests, prescriptions, occupational and mental therapy;
- Past or future hearing aids;
- Past or future loss of income;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Pain including physical, mental, or emotional suffering.
Attorney Elizabeth A. Citrin has a history of achieving favorable outcomes for clients. From personal injury matters to whistleblowing cases, when you need a lawyer who is not afraid to stand up for the rights of the American people, contact Elizabeth A. Citrin, P.C.
Don’t wait, call today! To schedule a consultation regarding a 3M earplug lawsuit, dial (251) 202-3374, or contact our firm online 24/7.