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3M Earplugs: The Latest on the Lawsuits

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3M Earplugs: The Latest on the Lawsuits

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3M’s website calls them “the world’s softest earplugs.” But these devices may have contributed to long-term hearing damage for thousands upon thousands of veterans, hundreds of whom are now filing suit against the company, alleging that the products failed to protect their ears from combat-related noise damage.

The Department of Justice has already settled its own case against 3M. In 2018, the company paid $9.1 million to the U.S. government to settle the lawsuit, and in that settlement, the company claimed no wrongdoing. But none of the damages were awarded to the actual victims - our veterans who deal with hearing loss every day as a result of disingenuous claims made by the company.

Over 600 military servicemembers across the United States are suing 3M due to hearing loss, claiming that the company was aware that the earplugs were defective.

The Product

The earplugs in question are dual-sided Combat Arms Earplugs, used by various branches of the armed services between 2003 and 2015. Servicemembers reported several problems with the earplugs, including that the earplug seals would rupture without the knowledge of those using them.

The victims all suffer similar symptoms: ringing in the ears (tinnitus), difficulty sleeping and difficulty concentrating.

3M responded to the settlement with the following statement:

“3M has great respect for the brave men and women who protect us around the world and their safety is a priority. We have a long history of partnering with the U.S. military, and we continue to make products to help protect our troops and support their missions. The company worked in close coordination with the U.S. military on the Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 product and its design reflected the direction and feedback of individuals acting on the military’s behalf. We deny this product was defectively designed and will vigorously defend against the allegations in these lawsuits through the legal process.”

The Alleged Design Flaws

Internal testing at 3M determined that the earplugs were too short for effective insertion into the user’s ear. Because of this, the earplugs failed to form a seal within the ear, leading to inadequate protection of the eardrum. Information gleaned from the now-settled lawsuit found that the company was aware of these design flaws and that it failed to notify the U.S. government that the product was defective. From 2003 to 2015, countless servicemembers used the earplugs expecting them to work as intended. Now, many of them face permanent hearing damage.

I Suffered Hearing Loss as a Servicemember. What Are My Options?

If you have suffered hearing loss as a result of 3M earplugs during your service to the military, you may be entitled to compensation. Just because the DOJ settled its case against 3M does not mean you do not have options. If you are a veteran or current servicemember who has suffered hearing loss and you believe that defective 3M earplugs contributed, you should discuss your problems with a defective product attorney. Your initial consultation is free, and these attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. That means that you will not be charged for anything unless a favorable verdict or settlement is won in your favor. You have nothing to lose by contacting an attorney.

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