In July 2018, the 3M Company agreed to pay $9.1 million to the federal government, settling a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the company knowingly supplied defective Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs (CAEv2) to the U.S. military. These earplugs were standard issue and used by thousands of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2015.
The CAEv2 earplugs were designed to have dual ends to protect the hearing of soldiers exposed damaging noises in battle zones or training. One side was used as a normal earplug, while the other blocked the sounds of explosions and gunshots without obstructing quieter noise.
However, the earplugs were too short and prone to dislodge, which caused inadequate protection. As a result, soldiers experienced buzzing or ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss after completing their military service.
According to court documents, 3M and Aearo Technologies, Inc. (its predecessor) knew about the defect as early as 2000, when the earplugs failed numerous safety tests, which is a violation of their military sales contracts. Furthermore, the lawsuit claimed both companies falsified the test results to fraudulently claim the earplugs met military safety standards. Aearo originally created the earplugs and 3M bought the company in 2008 and retained Aearo employees to design, manufacture, and test the defective CAEv2 earplugs.
In 2016, the whistleblower claim was brought under the False Claims Act by Moldex-Metric, Inc., who is a competitor of 3M. Both companies have been engaged in hotly contested legal disputes over the past few years, accusing each other of patent infringement and making false claims. Moldex-Metric, Inc. received $1.9 million as part of the lawsuit.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), hearing issues are the most common injuries suffered by American veterans. Approximately 1.3 million veterans diagnosed with tinnitus and 933,000 veterans diagnosed with hearing loss were receiving disability compensation in 2014.
If you or a loved one is a veteran with hearing problems and served the military between 2003 and 2015, you may be eligible to file a product liability lawsuit against the 3M Company to be compensated for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of life’s enjoyment. Our Los Angeles product liability lawyer at Shoop | A Professional Law Corporation can help you recover the financial compensation and justice you deserve.
Attorney David Shoop was a service member in the U.S. Army who was stationed overseas in Germany. He is beyond outraged that the Minnesota-based company would knowingly and intentionally put men and women of the military in harm’s way.
If you are interested in filing a product liability lawsuit for defective, military-issued earplugs, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.