What are 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?
In the early 2000s, Aearo Technologies, Inc. designed its non-linear, dual-ended selective attenuation Combat Arms Ear Plugs to protect soldiers against loud noises encountered in combat scenarios.
The 3M earplugs featured a unique design. One end aimed to block all types of sound, while the other end provided a significant reduction of loud noises while still allowing the user to hear softer sounds like conversations in their surroundings.
What's the Problem with 3M Earplugs?
In 2003, Aearo secured an exclusive contract bid to supply the military with its Combat Arms Earplugs. 3M acquired Aearo in 2008 and continued supplying earplugs to members of all branches of the military.
The contract remained in effect until 2012 when Moldex-Metric Inc. won the contract from 3M, and took over supplying the military with its own line of combat earplugs. Nevertheless, 3M continued manufacturing the Combat Arms Earplugs until 2015.
Unfortunately, a subsequent investigation found that 3M Combat Arms Earplugs had design flaws that rendered them ineffective in protecting users’ hearing. The earplugs could become loose in the wearer’s ear without them realizing it, allowing dangerous noises to penetrate.
Additionally, some users’ ear canals did not fit the earplug’s short stem, making the problem worse. As a result, many individuals who relied on 3M Combat Arms Earplugs have suffered from hearing loss and tinnitus.
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Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Hearing loss and tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ears) are preventable conditions. In combat, they are caused by machinery, gunfire, explosions, and other loud noises. Service members are consistently exposed to this type of sound, which 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were supposed to protect them from.
Tinnitus and hearing loss can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. The inability to hear well can result in:
- A lack of concentration/focus
- Difficulty hearing when others speak
- An inability to hear sounds around oneself
- Lack of sleep
- Social isolation
- Increase in suicidal ideation
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), more than 2.7 million veterans receive disability benefits for permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. In reality, this number is likely much higher, as the process for VA benefits is tedious and many veterans may have hearing damage but not be receiving any assistance.
Do I Qualify to File a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?
Military veterans, current service members, and civilians who meet the following criteria may qualify to file a 3M Earplug lawsuit:
- Veterans: If you served in the military anytime between 2003 and 2015, used Combat Arms Ear Plugs during your military service, and were subsequently diagnosed with hearing loss, tinnitus, or related problems, you may be eligible to participate in a lawsuit. Additionally, if you have a rating from the VA for hearing loss, it could make your case stronger.
- Civilians: If you purchased 3M Earplugs, wore them, and later developed hearing damage, you may qualify to file a lawsuit against 3M.
To learn more about your legal rights, you should consult with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who specializes in 3M earplug lawsuits. At Schmidt & Clark, we will evaluate your specific case, review your medical records, and help you understand your options free of charge. If you qualify to file a claim, our 3M Earplug Lawyers will guide you through the process of pursuing compensation for your injuries.
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