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What's the Problem?
United States military service members rely on government-issued gear to help them complete missions effectively and safely. However, a slew of recent lawsuits alleges that a design flaw in the 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplug exposed users to hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and loss of balance (vertigo).
For over a decade, the faulty 3M earplugs were the only ear protection available to U.S. service members. Most branches of the military supplied 3M earplugs as standard issues, meaning that millions of wearers could have potentially suffered hearing loss. 3M Combat Arms Earplugs have also never been recalled, which means that many people may still be using them.
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How Were 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Supposed to Work?
3M military earplugs are non-linear, selective attenuation earplugs designed to provide 2 options for sound reduction, depending on how a soldier wears them.
Wearing the earplug with the olive-colored end in the ear blocks all sound like a traditional earplug, whereas with the yellow end in the ear, the earplugs block or significantly reduce loud noises such as gunshots and explosions, but still allow the wearer to hear spoken orders or approaching enemy combatants.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
Sadly, hearing loss and tinnitus are some of the most common disabilities veterans develop after their service. Many veterans are likely unaware that they suffered hearing loss due to faulty 3M Combat Arms Earplugs. Common signs and symptoms of hearing loss or tinnitus include:
- A buzzing or ringing in the ears after being exposed to noise
- Difficulty understanding what a person is saying
- Struggling to hear things properly because background noise is overwhelming
- Feeling as though your ears are “full” after leaving a crowded or noisy area
What Does 3M Say About its Earplugs?
A 3M spokesperson claims that the creation of the Combat Arms earplugs was to collaborate with the military to solve one of the longest-standing problems they have had, that soldiers won’t wear hearing protection in combat and around loud noises.
“All of our testings showed that the Combat Arms earplugs, when properly fitted and when used according to their instructions, work to protect people’s hearing,” 3M said. "Our military audiologists were well trained in how to train people and fit people for the use of earplugs; however, it should have worked and protected their hearing in environments where it was appropriate to be using these earplugs.”
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Am I Eligible to File an Earplug Lawsuit Against 3M?
U.S. military service members and veterans who may be eligible for compensation for injuries caused by 3M Combat Arms Earplugs include the following:
- Veterans or active members of the U.S. military who served between 2003-2015
- Those who wore the 3M defective earplugs during their training or active service
- Those who suffer from permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or vertigo
What is the Status of 3M Earplug Lawsuits?
About 230,000 current military service members and veterans have filed lawsuits against 3M and its Aearo Technologies LLC subsidiary in multidistrict litigation (MDL) overseen by Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida.
3M has won 6 of the 16 bellwether trials to date. The other 10 trials yielded cumulative verdicts totaling over $250 million for plaintiffs. Large verdicts in many of the trials have led to aggregate liability estimates in the billions.
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Get a Free District of Columbia 3M Earplug Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Product Liability Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is an experienced team of plaintiffs' lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in District of Columbia 3M Ear Plug lawsuits. We handle individual litigation nationwide and accept personal injury legal action in Delaware and all 50 states.
Free Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you suffered hearing damage, ear damage, or other side effects after using 3M earplugs, you should contact our law firm immediately using the contact form below. You may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a Lawsuit and our mass tort law firm can help.