Combat Arms Earplugs Injury Risks

Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Litigation and Alleged Hearing Risks

Combat Arms Earplugs Manufactured by 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were designed for military use and used extensively by thousands of servicemen and servicewomen deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq from 2003 to 2015. The CAEV2 was designed to allow for two different protection settings, Open/Weapons Fire mode and Closed/Constant Protection mode. The applicable setting is determined by which side of the earplug is inserted into the ear, yellow for Weapons Fire mode, green for Constant Protection mode. Weapons Fire mode was designed to allow for hearing speech and communicating while still protecting against damaging noise levels from gunfire and explosions. The Constant Protection mode blocked all noise more completely (more like a traditional earplug) which was useful for soldiers operating in track vehicles, in air support or during regular training. Both settings were purported to block noise up to a certain standard but in recent litigation, the government has alleged that neither mode of the ear plug met the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that 3M claimed due to an unreported design flaw.

$9.1 million Settlement Between 3M and the U.S. Government

In July of 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 Combat Arms Earplugs v2 to the U.S. military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2016 under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act which permits private parties to sue on behalf of the federal government when they believe that a defendant has submitted false claims for government funds. In this case, the whistleblower was awarded $1,911,000 for their part in the lawsuit.

Per the Department of Justice press release, the settlement resolved allegations that 3M violated the False Claims Act by selling or causing to be sold defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency. Specifically, the United States alleged that 3M, and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., 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. It was also alleged that this design defect was known to 3M but was not disclosed to the Department of Defense.

Injuries to Soldiers

If the allegations against 3M are true, thousands of servicemen and servicewomen could have used faulty earplugs that did not protect them as the equipment was intended to. Based on the alleged design flaw, the earplugs could loosen while in the ear unbeknownst to the soldier allowing damaging sounds to make their way into the ear. Dangerous sound levels can have serious and permanent effects including partial or total hearing loss, or tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Hearing loss is one of the most common afflictions suffered by active duty and former servicemen and servicewoman. Tinnitus, which can be debilitating, is just as prevalent. According to James Henry, a research scientist with the VA Portland Healthcare System, last year there were over 1.6 million veterans seeking medical care for chronic tinnitus.

You May be Entitled to Compensation

If you or a loved one were issued Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs during service in the military between 2003 and 2015, and have since suffered partial or total hearing loss or suffer from tinnitus, we would like to speak with you. Please click here to provide information about your potential case against 3M.

FREE COMBAT ARMS EARPLUGS
CASE EVALUATION

Please fill in the form below to request a FREE case evaluation from one of our attorneys if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with hearing damage or loss during or immediately after U.S. military service after using 3M Combat Arms Earplugs (Version 2) between 2003 and 2015.

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Do you or a loved one suffer from partial or total hearing loss, or tinnitus that was medically diagnosed during or immediately after service in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015? *
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