What was the Problem with 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?
To date, more than 300,000 lawsuits have been filed alleging that 3M and its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies, failed to inform users how to properly use Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv.2). Despite having knowledge of design flaws with the earplugs as early as 2000, 3M continued to supply the products as standard-issue hearing protection to the armed forces through 2015.
The problem was that 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were difficult to insert properly and unlikely to seat correctly. Since 3M failed to provide instructions on how to properly insert and correctly seat the ear plugs, users subsequently developed an array of hearing problems.
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Military Earplug Hearing Loss
Gunshots and explosions typically produce noise in the range of 150 decibels, which is significantly greater than the sound rating for other common loud noises, such as motor vehicle traffic and sirens. 3M Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv.2) were marketed as being able to block much of those combat sounds while simultaneously allowing the wearer to hear quieter sounds, such as conversations and commands from superior officers.
Military service members used defective 3M Earplugs between 2003 and 2015 in combat zones overseas. The use of faulty earplugs exposed wearers to the risk of the following side effects:
- Ruptured eardrums and damage to the delicate bone structures in the middle ear, can cause immediate and sometimes permanent hearing loss.
- Gradual hearing loss results in muffled or distorted sounds, with greater hearing deterioration over time.
- Persistent ringing, buzzing, or roaring sounds that are characteristic of a hearing disorder called tinnitus.
At first, these symptoms may appear to be temporary, as the primary effects of exposure to loud noises will sometimes go away. Studies have found that even when the immediate hearing loss does go away, the individual will be more likely to suffer permanent hearing loss in 1 or both ears over time.
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Who is at Risk for Hearing Loss?
If you served in any branch of the U.S. military between 2003 and 2016 and used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, you could be at an increased risk for the development of hearing loss, tinnitus, and other severe health complications.
Affected service members may have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Operation Ocean Shield, Yemeni, or Syria. The Hearing Health Foundation found that, in 2017 alone, over 1.16 million veterans received disability compensation for hearing loss, and 1.79 million veterans received compensation for tinnitus.
Severe noise exposure can adversely affect one’s health and well-being. It can go hand-in-hand with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, leading to a lower quality of life and other poor outcomes.
Please note: Military service members were not the only ones who were issued 3M Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv.2). The products were also sold to law enforcement, other industries, and the public. Police officers used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs on training grounds and at target ranges.
Am I Eligible to File an Ear Plug Lawsuit Against 3M?
Please contact the law offices of Schmidt & Clark if you served in any branch of the U.S. military and relied on 3M earplugs while you were on duty. 3M stopped manufacturing Combat Arms Earplugs in 2015; however, the company never issued a formal recall for the products that it had already shipped. Even if you served in the military after 2015, you might still have used the 3M earplugs and may be at future risk of severe hearing problems.
Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is currently representing active and retired military service personnel throughout the U.S., and we will fight to recover just compensation payout for any hearing loss and/or tinnitus you suffered as a result of using defective 3M earplugs.
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