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Personal Injury Lawyer

What Is the Subject of the 3M Combat Arms Earplug Lawsuits?

Military service members who served between 2003 through 2015 filed suit after experiencing hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) after using 3M earplugs. While not admitting fault, the company agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle a suit alleging that 3M and its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies, knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military. As of August 15, 2019, more than 2,000 lawsuits were pending in Florida’s federal court system on the topic of dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs. The plaintiffs allege that 3M knew the plugs were faulty and failed to warn soldiers — even committing fraud by falsifying testing data.

What Harm Was Caused by the 3M Earplugs?

3M and Aearo allegedly claimed that the design of the dual-ended earplugs blocked all sound when the green side was inserted first. When the yellow end was inserted first, 3M claimed that the soldier could still hear commands and other voices but would still be protected against explosions. In 2016, Moldex-Metric Inc. filed a lawsuit against 3M, which alleges that the company knew their claims were false. The suit alleged that the earplugs, which were standard issue for many years, likely caused significant hearing loss and ringing in the ears for thousands of military service members. Hundreds of soldiers have now filed lawsuits against 3M and Aearo for damage to their hearing and loss of balance.

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) cites hearing loss as a significant concern because it directly affects operations and the quality of life for soldiers. Each branch of the military does routine testing and tracks results, providing hard evidence of what is alleged in the lawsuits. The DOD lists some of the problems caused by the faulty earplugs.

  • Difficulty hearing someone speaking within a few feet
  • Difficulty in understanding spoken words
  • Ringing in the ears, sometimes described as a buzzing sound
  • A “full” feeling in the ears after spending time in a loud area

Will I Lose My Disability Compensation if I File a Lawsuit?

If you are receiving disability payments from the Veterans Administration due to your hearing damage, your benefits should not be affected if you file a claim against 3M. Your disability compensation is based on your disability rating. Your income level is not a factor, so your benefits should not be affected. If you need help with filing your lawsuit, contact a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Frederick J. Brynn, P.C., today.