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South Carolina 3M Earplug Lawsuit

The law offices of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, are now filing lawsuits on behalf of U.S. military veterans and current service members who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) after using 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (caev2). If you served in any branch of the military between 2003 and 2015 and were subsequently injured, you should fill out the contact form below or call (866) 588-0600 to learn more about your legal rights.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What are Combat Arms Earplugs?

Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) are military hearing protection devices that were originally designed by Aearo Technologies in the early 2000s and later sold to the Department of Defense (DOD) in an exclusive-supplier contract, which was assumed by 3M when it acquired Aearo in 2008.

What made the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs different was their adaptive dual-sided design. Each side was color-coded, designating the level of noise protection afforded by each end. The olive-green side represented the blocked, or closed, position. With this side inserted into the ear canal, all sound is blocked like a traditional earplug.

With the yellow side inserted, the earplug was in the unblocked, or open, position. This reduced the volume of loud sounds, such as gunshots, explosions, and heavy machinery, but still allowed the user to hear softer sounds like spoken commands and approaching enemies.

Combining this unique design with an attractive, low per-unit price ($10 per pair), 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were an easy sell to the government. Per a 2006 contract, 3M supplied about 15,000 earplug packages to the military each year, with 50 pairs of earplugs in each package, for a guaranteed price of at least $9 million for the year.

3M Becomes the Exclusive Supplier of Combat Arms Earplugs

The U.S. Department of Defense began distributing the 3M Combat Arms earplugs to military personnel in Afghanistan beginning in 2001. Throughout the Iraqi theater, earplugs became a standard issue. By 2004, DOD supplied all soldiers with 3M earplugs, with the Marine Corps ordering 20,000 pairs alone that year.

In 2006, the DOD signed a contract with 3M, making the company the exclusive supplier of earplugs to the U.S. military.

As time went on, however, questions began getting raised about potential design flaws with the Combat Arms Earplugs — improper fittings that prevented a full seal in the ear canal, thereby allowing loud noises to penetrate the eardrum.

Unfortunately, this realization was too late for thousands of soldiers who had already suffered permanent hearing loss and tinnitus, paying a high price for 3M's negligence.

Hearing Loss Among U.S. Military Veterans

The effect of hearing loss and tinnitus extends well beyond a soldier's active military service. An examination of data collected from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) exposes the impact of hearing loss among veterans.

According to the VA, at least 2.7 million veterans receive disability compensation and other benefits resulting from either hearing loss or tinnitus. These figures are most likely a conservative estimate of the number of veterans who actually developed hearing problems, as the administration can only document the existing conditions of veterans who have filed claims for disability benefits.

Furthermore, the U.S. CDC found that veterans have a 30% increased risk of developing severe hearing impairment compared to non-veterans. In fact, hearing loss is the single most common disability reported among military veterans, the agency found.

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Complications of Hearing Impairment

As stated above, noise-induced hearing loss is the most common medical injury among military personnel, as service members are frequently exposed to dangerous noise levels. Constant exposure to these loud noises without proper ear protection can result in irreversible damage to hearing and worsen the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When accompanying PTSD, hearing loss can have a profoundly negative effect on the quality of life among military personnel compared to the civilian population. Hearing loss can be especially difficult for people with PTSD because it can lead to feelings of isolation and make communication uncomfortable.

Over time, hearing impairment can also lead to tinnitus, a condition that can result in an increase in stress hormones that can exacerbate existing PTSD symptoms.

Do You Qualify for a 3M Combat Arms Earplug Lawsuit?

The dangerous noise levels experienced by service members of all branches of the U.S. military service are well documented. Instead of offering protection from loud noise exposure, 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (caev2) caused hearing loss and tinnitus to hundreds of thousands of military personnel.

If you were injured by 3M Earplugs after serving in the U.S. military, you can join the thousands of veterans who are filing lawsuits against the manufacturer to recover compensation payout for damages caused by the faulty earplugs.

The law offices of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, can help you understand your legal options and may be able to help you file a 3M defective earplug lawsuit. Fill out the contact form below now for a free case review.

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