Military personnel are regularly exposed to high-intensity noises ranging from deadly explosions to close-range gunfire. Consequently, noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common service-related disabilities. Between 2003 and 2015, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency purchased the Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) from a government contractor to protect service members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The dual-ended earplugs were supposed to provide soldiers with two options for hearing protection:
The olive side served as a traditional earplug that could block high-intensity noises during combat situations.
The yellow side filtered sounds to ensure the soldier could hear vocal commands during combat situations.
However, recent lawsuits allege that Aearo Technologies, Inc. and 3M (which acquired Aearo Technologies, Inc. in 2008) misrepresented this product and knowing sold over 22 million defective combat earplugs to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. Military investigations have since discovered that the plugs are too short for proper insertion and that the stems connecting the dual sides tend to dislodge over time, effectively rendering the product useless. Today, millions of veterans are suffering from hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing-related medical conditions because they used these earplugs.
For example, retired Army Brig. Gen. William Gothard developed hearing loss and tinnitus after using these earplugs “on a (shooting) range, anytime, you know, flying in a helicopter, riding in a Humvee. We used them every day when I was in Iraq, whenever we went out on a patrol or went anywhere, just because the vehicle noise is loud as well.”
The lawsuits filed against 3M and its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies, Inc. claim:
The companies designed, manufactured, and marketed a defective product.
The companies knew about the design flaw and failed to warn the military.
The companies misrepresented their product to become the military’s exclusive earplug provider.
The companies falsified test results to comply with the military’s safety requirements.
The companies failed to provide adequate user instructions.
Pursuing Damages Through Civil Litigation
Last year, 3M paid $9.1 million – without admitting fault – to settle allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. But this settlement doesn’t provide compensation to the service members who have been directly harmed by this defective product. Instead, hundreds of veterans started filing claims against 3M to secure compensatory and punitive damages based on four counts of action: strict liability, failure to warn, negligence, and fraudulent misrepresentation. Last March, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that all civil lawsuits against 3M will be consolidated for multidistrict litigation in the state of Florida. The court hasn’t scheduled any bellwether trials yet because new cases are still being added to the docket.
Are You Ready to Pursue Justice & Restitution?
Contact the product liability attorneys at Oliver Law Group P.C. if you’ve suffered a hearing-related medical condition after using 3Ms Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2). Our result-driven legal team can investigate your case, complete and file the appropriate documents, and guide you through each phase of this challenging but beneficial legal process. With our guidance, you can recover compensatory damages that cover your medical expenses, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact Oliver Law Group P.C. to arrange a free, no-risk consultation.