$9M Whistleblower Settlement For Defective Military 3M Earplugs

In 2016, a former employee of 3M filed a Whistleblower lawsuit under the “False Claims Act”.  The employee exposed that the multinational conglomerate knew its earplugs were defective. Plus, he detailed that there was fraudulent testing to comply with the US military standards.

About Defective Military Earplugs

3M designed the defective military earplugs for armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect from hearing loss from 2003 to 2015. Marketing told soldiers that they could flip the dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) for more protection around gunfire or explosions. These dual-ended earplugs could offer multiple safety options to protect them. When worn in the “closed” or “blocked” mode, the plugs blocked sound in the fashion of conventional earplugs.   When flipped to the yellow end, which is the “open” or “unblocked” position, the ear protection greatly reduces intense impulse sounds on the battlefield. Plus, the open mode would not obstruct quieter noises like approaching combatants or communication from comrades.  3M insisted that these earplugs were the answer to protecting hearing while still being able to perform necessary duties on the battlefield.

Defective Military 3M Earplugs Settlement

The whistleblower lawsuit highlights that 3M knew the design defects in 2000. In fact, the company tried to retest the closed end of the earplugs. Plus, researchers even tried to mitigate the loosening effect to no avail. Also, no one outsourced the hearing tests on the earplugs as is normal procedure. Instead, the testing occurred in house. Researchers gathered 10 subjects, but only performed hearing tests on eight. Then, they averaged the results. Even the results of the first eight suggest lower than needed sound attenuation. The average earplugs need a rate of 22, however, these earplugs tested at 10.9. Yet, researchers or lab technicians did not include these in the bid to gain the military supply contract.

Instead, 3M expressly certified that the earplugs completed with the Salient Characteristics of Medical Procurement Item Description as needed for military personnel. However, the earplugs did not. Each time 3M received payments for the known defective military 3M earplugs, it constitutes as another false claim against the government. Therefore, a jury awarded a $9.1 million settlement against 3M. However, this settlement does not go to the thousands of veterans injured by this device.

Defective Military 3M Earplugs Injuries

The injuries occurring from the defective military 3M earplugs include partial or total hearing loss, buzzing or ringing in the ears, or tinnitus from habitual loud noises.  Hearing loss and tinnitus constitute the most common form of service-connected disability among U.S. veterans.  The harm suffered has a dramatic impact on the lives of veterans, because there is no cure for tinnitus. Plus, these earplugs compounded the injuries since, in 2014, almost 1 million veterans received disability benefits for hearing impairment. This doesn’t include the 1.3 million on disability compensation for tinnitus. Further, James Henry with the VA Portland Healthcare System has indicated that more than 1.6 million veterans are seeking medical care for severe, ongoing tinnitus. This poses challenges for veterans because doctors have a great difficulty diagnosing the condition.

Get Justice

The Michael Brady Lynch Firm complex litigation attorneys have more than two decades of experience protecting the rights of the injured. We have helped thousands across the country following an unexpected accident, defective product or personal injury claims. After being injured from negligence or malpractice, we will help you recover any compensation owed. This will help pay for medical expenses and other bills incurred from your injury. Therefore if you or a loved one experienced partial or total hearing loss, buzzing in the ears or tinnitus after military service, call us today. Our consultations are completely free. Let’s fight for justice together.

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