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Nebraska 3M Earplug Lawyer

From 2003 to 2015, the 3M Company sold earplugs to the U.S. Military that were allegedly defective and could have led to significant hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in hundreds of thousands of service members. If you are a veteran or active service member who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus after wearing 3M earplugs, you could be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries through the filing of a lawsuit.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What's the Problem with 3M Earplugs?

3M marketed its Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) as having the ability to be flipped over for varying levels of protection. They were said to provide protection against exposure to the sound of gunfire, explosions, and other loud noises while enabling the user to hear softer sounds like approaching troops and conversations when the other side was inserted.

However, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Defense revealed that the earplugs were defectively designed. In fact, many problems may have compromised the effectiveness of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs:

  • The earplugs were too short for proper insertion into the ear canal, rendering them useless.
  • They could become loose without the user noticing.
  • The defective design of the earplugs prevented them from making an adequate seal.

According to allegations raised in hundreds of thousands of lawsuits, 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, were aware of problems with the Combat Arms Earplugs as early as 2000. The suits further allege that 3M and Aearo performed testing that revealed the defects, but the companies falsified documents and failed to accurately report test data to ensure that they remained the military’s exclusive earplug provider.

3M Combat Arms Earplugs were sold to all branches of the U.S. military for more than a decade. While the earplugs were discontinued in 2015, 3M never issued a formal recall for the products. As a result, it is likely that thousands of pairs are still in circulation and may still even be distributed by other vendors.

This may have caused thousands, if not millions, of U.S. military service members to have developed significant permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, and loss of balance.

Injuries Caused by Defective 3M Earplugs

Military service members who were exposed to loud noises due to defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs may have developed serious injuries, including:

  • Hearing loss: Most of the hearing loss suffered by veterans is caused by noise exposure – typically from gunshots, explosions, and roadside bombs. Normal age-related hearing loss can make the problem worse. Most cases of hearing loss cannot be reversed, but patients may benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Read Also: Hearing Loss Settlement Amounts

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is the leading disability among military service members, affecting nearly 15% of veterans, according to the CDC. People with tinnitus experience ringing, buzzing, high-pitched whistling, or many other sounds in one or both ears. Tinnitus can cause problems sleeping, trouble concentrating, emotional stress, memory problems, depression, and other complications.
  • Loss of Balance (Vertigo): Damage to the ear can lead to loss of balance. Patients with vertigo may describe symptoms of a heavy head, floating, unsteadiness, or a general false sensation of motion. Loss of balance may appear in conjunction with hearing loss or tinnitus.

Related Article3M Earplug Lawsuit Update 

3M Creates $1 Billion Trust for Veterans with Hearing Loss

Facing nearly 300,000 lawsuits from U.S. service members who claim that 3M Combat Arms Earplugs failed to protect their hearing, the company announced in July 2022 that it set aside $1 billion in a trust to resolve the lawsuits. As part of the plan, 3M's subsidiary, Aearo Technologies, filed for voluntary bankruptcy.

The announcement came 3 years after the 3M lawsuits were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Florida. Since the MDL was created, 3M has won 6 bellwether trials and lost 10. As of May 2022, 13 plaintiffs have won almost $300 million in judgments against the company. 3M has still not paid out on these cases, instead choosing to appeal the verdicts.

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