3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs™, issued to millions of service members over a 12 year period, were defectively designed, causing the men and women serving our Country to be exposed to dangerous levels of sound resulting in hearing loss. Hearing loss is the most common service-connected disability among U.S. veterans. Thousands of soldiers have experienced ringing or buzzing in their ears due to the defective nature of 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs™. Nearly three million U.S. veterans currently receive benefits for hearing loss or “tinnitus” (incurable “ringing in the ears”). In 2014 alone, over 900,000 veterans received disability benefits for hearing impairment, and 1.3 million received disability compensation for “tinnitus”.
3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs™ were designed to be reversible – traditional earplugs when used one way (olive end in ear), and when flipped over (yellow end in ear), sound filtration devices; to block or significantly reduce loud battlefield noise while sill allowing the user to hear other soldiers speaking. However, 3M knew the earplugs were too short to properly fit in the ear effectively, and would not properly seal the ear canal, leaving service men and women with significantly inadequate hearing protection .
On July 26, 2018, the United States Department of Justice announced that 3M had agreed to pay $9.1 million in order to resolve allegations that they knowingly sold the Version 2-Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs™ (the “CAEv2”) to the our military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device.
“Specifically, the United States alleged that 3M … knew the CAEv2 was too short for proper insertion into users’ ears and that the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefore did not perform well for certain individuals. The United States further alleged that 3M did not disclose this design defect to the military.”
However, no compensation was or has been provided to the actual service members who suffered the effects of the defective earplugs and experienced hearing loss.
Wars and conflicts where service members were issued 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs™ include:
- War in North-West Pakistan (part of “War on Terrorism”)
- Operation Ocean Shield (the Indian Ocean)
- American-led intervention in Libya (2011- part of the “Libyan Crisis”)
- American-led intervention in Iraq (2014 – 2017)
- American-led Intervention in Syria (2014 to present)
- Yemeni Civil War (2015 to present)
- American Intervention in Libya (2015 to present)
If you are or know a veteran who served in any branch of the military in any of these wars or conflicts between 2003 and 2015 and have been diagnosed with hearing loss or Tinnitus, contact us online or call us at 1-866-252-3535. Filing a lawsuit against 3M will not affect your disability benefits.