3M Settles Earplugs Lawsuit for Millions

The 3M Company has agreed to pay $9.1 million in a settlement with the Department of Justice following allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the United States military without properly disclosing the defects.

The dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), were allegedly too short for proper use by certain individuals, as sound waves and ear movements could loosen the earplugs slightly until they could no longer adequately cancel out loud noises. Nonetheless, the earplugs were mass-distributed to the U.S. military in Iraq and in Afghanistan during Operating: Enduring Freedom on a contract with the Defense Logistics Agency, and many servicemembers suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, and other complications while near industrial equipment, combat aircraft and land-based vehicles, and gunfire or explosions.

In its lawsuit, the U.S. government claimed that 3M sold the defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency under false pretenses and that 3M knew about CAEv2’s defects prior to its mass distribution. However, 3M did not admit any wrongdoing or knowledge of their product’s defects prior to the allegations brought forth by the plaintiffs. Instead, 3M claims the lawsuit was a good-faith measure to avoid future legal and public-relations battles down the road.

The federal government’s lawsuit was brought under provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private-party whistleblowers to sue on behalf of the government in cases where the defendants have submitted false claims that have resulted in them obtaining government funds. As a part of the settlement, the individual whistleblower will receive over $1.9 million in damages awarded of the initial $9.1 million settlement.

The brave servicemembers keeping us safe abroad should not have to face any undue burdens or suffering when returning home, especially when that suffering results from a company’s negligence in design or manufacturing or its intentional failure to disclose known product flaws. A dedicated 3M defective earplugs lawyer can help get the justice they deserve. While 3M may think it can buy its way out of dealing with the real consequences of distributing its defective earplugs, standing up and fighting for our veterans is not something that can be sold off for the right price.

Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers is ready to help any active or discharged member of the armed services who has suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, or permanent ear damage after using Version 2 of 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs. Visit us today for a free evaluation of your case to determine if you are eligible to file a lawsuit for compensation against 3M and Aearo Technologies, Inc., the company responsible for manufacturing the earplugs.