From 2003-2015, the U.S. military issued the earplugs pictured above to troops for hearing protection. These earplugs were initially manufactured by Aearo Technologies. They were sold as “Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2).” Recently, it was determined that these earplugs were defective when used to protect soldiers against loud, percussive noises occurring during combat or training.
The 3M Corporation purchased Aearo Technologies (the original manufacturer) in 2008. The Department of Justice believes that both Aearo Technologies and 3M knew about the defect before the earplugs were distributed to the military. Because neither Aearo Technologies nor the 3M Corporation notified the military or its service members, anyone who sustained hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of wearing the defective earplugs, may have a claim for compensation against 3M Corporation.
3M Settlement with United States Justice Department
In July, 2018, 3M paid $9.1 million dollars to resolve a U.S. Department of Justice investigation alleging that 3M had prior knowledge that the earplugs were defective. The documents produced during that investigation indicate 3M was aware of the defects in the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, when they were sold to the military.
The Department of Justice alleged that 3M failed to warn the military that the earplugs could be defective. The DOJ also alleges that 3M may have altered the results of testing to fabricate that the earplugs met government standards. During testing of the earplugs, the manufacturer did not achieve the desired level of hearing protection. Adequate hearing protection was only achieved when the earplug was modified when inserted into the ear. However, the earplugs did not carry instructions to advise of the necessary modification. Additionally, there is evidence that the earplugs were too short or did not fit properly in certain soldier’s ears. The improper fitting permitted vibrations from dangerous noise levels to damage small filaments in the ears which affect hearing quality.
Earplugs Used in Conflicts
The 3M earplugs in question were never recalled by 3M and could still be in use. They were issued to United States Troops deployed between the years 2003-2015 and included the following conflicts:
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Freedom
Afghanistan: Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraq: Operation New Dawn
Syria & Iraq: Islamic State-Operation Inherent Resolve
Users of these defective Combat Arms Earplugs have been diagnosed with tinnitus (ringing in the ears), partial or complete hearing loss, or complications related to hearing from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury.
If you served in the military from 2003-2015 and suffer from one of these conditions, our experienced personal injury lawyers can review your case to determine if you may have a valid claim.
You can call us at 800-277-6124 or fill out the form below for a free evaluation.