3M Combat Arms Hearing Loss Lawyers
Do You Have Hearing Loss or Ringing in the Ears After Using 3M Earplugs?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC protects American soldiers' rights after suffering tinnitus (ringing) or hearing loss in the armed services.
Our legal team is currently reviewing hearing loss lawsuits related to defective dual-ended military earplugs that were manufactured by 3M Corp., a federal government contractor that sold the product to the Defense Logistics Agency.
Millions of American military service members and civilians were deployed overseas between 2002 and 2015 in support of the global 'War on Terror.' The federal Department of Defense issued 3M earplugs as standard issue personal protection to military men and women.
Mandatory Government-Issued Earplugs Were Defective
Many soldiers are subjected to loud noises, especially those in combat. The U.S. military supplies active-duty service members in combat zones with hearing protection as a mandatory issue.
Years passed before researchers discovered that the United States military gave service members defective earplugs manufactured by 3M under an exclusive contractual procurement. By then, military men and women experiencing impulse or high-intensity noise had developed hearing loss and tinnitus.
Financial Resolutions Through Trusted Legal Advisors
Thousands of service members and veterans filed legal claims against 3M for severe hearing impairment, deafness, and ringing in the ears after the federal government sued 3M for the defective earplugs. These product defect cases have been given multi-district litigation (MDL) status in the Northern District of Florida.
If you or a loved one is dealing with hearing problems after military service, contact the dual-ended combat arms earplugs lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC (888-four 424-5757) today. All our 3M combat arms earplugs cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, where we only receive a legal fee when we are successful in obtaining a recovery on your behalf.
Design Defects With Dual-Ended Earplugs Leading to Hearing Loss
A whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act Case brought against 3M in 2016 alleged that 3M manufactured and sold dangerously defective earplugs to armed forces. The lawsuit claims that the company knew that the earplugs could not work as designed, putting soldiers at extreme risk of extensive hearing loss or damage.
The design of the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) included a faulty seal that allows dangerously loud noise to penetrate the wearer's ears unknowingly.
In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached an agreement with 3M, where the manufacturer would pay a $9.1 million lawsuit settlement to resolve the allegations. However, this only resolved the dispute between 3M and the government.
The company is still financially liable to thousands of current and former military personnel who were harmed by 3M's defective earplugs.
This web page will address the following issues:
What is the Defect Alleged in the 3M Combat Arms Earplug Lawsuit?
In 2016, Moldex-Metric, Inc., a rival earplug manufacturer, filed a "whistleblower" lawsuit in federal court claiming that 3M was violating the False Claims Act regarding its dual-ended earplugs and had been deceiving the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for years. (When the matter is an alleged fraud against the U.S. taxpayer, private citizens, including corporations, may bring a qui tam whistleblower suit on behalf of the government.)
Within months, the Justice Department joined the case, which alleges the 3M devices "have likely caused thousands of soldiers to suffer significant hearing loss and tinnitus and exposed millions to the risks caused by 3M's defective earplugs."
The allegations were borne out when researchers determined the earplugs were designed and manufactured too short of ensuring that an adequate seal protects the ear canal.
The poorly designed earplugs could become dislodged in the ear, allowing significantly higher than acceptable levels of noise to enter the ear canal, increasing the risk of hearing damage.
Why did it Take so Long to Detect the Earplug Defect?
In 2008, 3M Corp. acquired Aearo Technologies, the original maker of the government-issued CAEv2 earplugs. The company supplied the product to the military since 2003, under an exclusive military contract.
The legal claims alleged that Aearo discovered in 2000 that the devices had specific hearing protection failures. However, the company never revealed the defect to the U.S. military and continued this deception.
For more than a decade, the 3M-acquired company Aearo was the exclusive supplier of U.S. military earplugs, effectively preventing competition for the government's business.
How Does 3M's False Certification Make Them Legally Responsible for Product Liability
Before the CAEv2 earplugs were initially issued, the government required Aearo Technologies, Inc to certify that the devices conformed to the military's standards.
The military required the company to show that the devices protected the wearer from noises and impulse sounds created by explosions and firearms while still allowing them to hear everyday speech, including commands while on an active battlefield.
The government required that the device pass certification. The earplugs had to be defect-free and packaged with detailed instructions to inform the soldier how to handle and use them properly. Unbeknown to the government, Aearo's internal tests failed to produce acceptable ratings expected by the military.
Test subjects demonstrated mixed results when the earplugs were not correctly fitted. The manufacturer claimed that the earplugs, when inserted in the "closed" position, achieved proper noise reduction.
But after 3M acquired Aearo, the company stopped including proper fitting instructions in the device packaging. Instead, the company told wearers to insert the earplugs as they usually would into their ear canal.
These inadequate instructions caused many soldiers to insert them improperly. The improper use raised the risk of the device loosening and led to eventual ear damage and deafness in the many U.S. combat veterans.
The whistleblower lawsuit claimed that 3M and Aearo misled the military through their packaging and marketing of the device. The lawsuit claims that the defect "likely caused thousands of soldiers to suffer significant hearing loss and tinnitus."
Has 3M Settled any Defective Earplug Lawsuit?
In 2016, Moldex-Metric filed a case that was later joined by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The lawsuit provided evidence that when the earplugs were not adequately sealed, the devices created a high risk of hearing damage when soldiers falsely believed they were blocking out dangerous impulse sounds.
While the $9.1 million settlement resolved the whistleblower lawsuit over 3M's failure to disclose defects to the military, the company refused to admit liability.
How Many Soldiers are Impacted With Defective 3M Earplugs?
The exact number of hearing injuries is yet unknown. However, there are at least thousands of service members and civilians who were injured by the defective 3M CAEv2 earplugs.
Many of the injured were left with total or partial deafness, ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears and continuous/intermittent tinnitus that produces roaring, hissing, ringing, clicking, or buzzing sounds. These injuries are the result of significantly elevated levels of noise caused by day-to-day military operations in and out of combat zones.
Individuals working with and around heavy machinery, jet engines, gunfire, and explosions, could have trouble sleeping, focusing, and concentrating because of ear damage. More than half of all military veterans report some degree of hearing loss related to their service.
Recently, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) announced that U.S. military veterans are thirty percent more likely than non-veterans to experience hearing loss. Military men and women who have served from 2002 and later are at four times greater risk.
Nearly two million veterans already receive military disability compensation for hearing complications and tinnitus.
Who are the Service Members and Veterans Most Likely Affected?
Any United States military personnel who received government-issued earplugs might be affected by the damage caused by these defective devices. The Department of Defense issued millions of CAEv2 devices to service members in the United States and abroad.
Also, 3M Company sold these devices for civilian commercial applications, including those by the U.S. Border Patrol. Some military engagements that our combat arms earplug lawyers are currently working with veterans on include:
- The second war in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom)
- The war in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom)
- Indian Ocean engagement (Operation Ocean Shield)
- The War on Terror in Northwest Pakistan
- The War in Somalia
- Libya crisis
- Iraq and Syria interventions (2014 to present)
- Yemen civil war
How Does Hearing Loss or Tinnitus Affect the Quality of My Life?
In 2018, the National Institutes of Health published a studying revealing that permanent hearing loss significantly diminishes an individual's quality of life. Newly acquired hearing loss might be a significant risk factor for psychological distress.
Research data show that individuals suffering from hearing problems over an extended period typically experience highly restricted lives. These victims of preventable hearing problems might encounter problems in the workplace and family environments.
What are Commons Hearing Loss Symptoms?
Hearing loss can result from a single acute episode of loud noise (such as a bomb blast), or long-term, continuous exposure to dangerously elevated noise levels. These exposures are the common causes of military-related hearing loss.
The symptoms often begin with subtle signs, like needing to ask other people to repeat what they've said. Some injured men and women have difficulty following conversations, especially in noisy environments.
When hearing loss becomes severe, it's almost impossible to carry on a conversation without a sound-amplification device.
Is There a Cure for Hearing Damage Caused by a Defective Earplug?
You might be surprised to learn that hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. There are many causes of hearing impairment, including age and genetics.
However, noise-produced hearing impairment causes irreversible damage to the eardrum, rendering the individual with a permanent disability.
Medical science has yet to find a cure to reverse deafness and restore normal function, but hearing aids and other sound-enhancing technology can help some. Unfortunately, all these defective earplug-related noise-induced hearing impairment cases could have been prevented had the manufacturer told the military not to use their product.
Where do I Find Medical Care for My Hearing Loss?
Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists, otolaryngologists and audiologists generally treat hearing loss. When you present a hearing issue to your ENT, he or she might order MRI or CT scans of your ears and perform various sound tests.
This type of hearing impairment can't be cured or reversed with surgery or medication. Treating the problem mainly involves using sound-enhancing technologies such as hearing aids and the like.
However, technology keeps improving. Newer methods allow people with hearing difficulties to watch or listen to television without having to turn the sound up and risk annoying other people. Phone-amplifying devices allow the hearing impaired to carry on everyday phone conversations.
Do Cochlear Implants Help With Hearing Impairment?
Some adults with severe hearing loss who cannot be helped with hearing aids are undergoing procedures that surgically insert cochlear implants. These devices trigger the nerves inside the ears to simulate the sensation of sound.
A surgeon different options to help the patient that include:
- Place the cochlear implant inside the ear
- Insert tiny electrodes next to the cochlear nerve
- Place a receiver under the skin behind the ear
The insertion areas require about one month to heal before moving on to the final step.
Afterward, an audiologist must install the outer parts of the implant, including a microphone, a transmitter, and a small computer called a speech processor to complete the procedure. These parts are worn behind the ear like a hearing aid and send signals to the ear implant to translate the sounds around the patient.
However, Surgical implants do not provide a simple solution. The process takes time, practice, and assistance from therapists to adjust to cochlear implants. The patient's physician will be able to decide if you are the right candidate for this hearing loss treatment option.
What are the Common Symptoms and Treatments for Tinnitus?
Signs of tinnitus include constant or intermittent ringing, roaring, buzzing, or hissing sounds in the users' ears. Like hearing loss, tinnitus is treated by ENTs, otolaryngologist, and audiologists.
Unlike hearing loss, some cases of tinnitus respond positively to medication. The condition is sometimes treated with low doses of antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, like amitriptyline or alprazolam.
Steroid treatment of the middle ear, followed by the oral intake of the generic drug alprazolam, has helped some patients with significant tinnitus. Studies show that the misoprostol hormone might help in some cases.
A hearing aid might help some people with tinnitus who have difficulty discerning outside sounds.
Many patients benefit from tinnitus maskers. These devices resemble hearing aids that produce a pleasant sound that can block out the ringing or other jarring internal noise of the tinnitus. A newer tinnitus instrument device combines a hearing aid and masker.
Various therapies can help reduce the effects of tinnitus, including cognitive therapy. Some therapies may be suitable for people who can't or don't want to use medications or other devices. However, these solutions generally take time to be effective.
Some military veterans suffering from hearing problems make significant lifestyle changes to adjust to their newly acquired disability. Every mentioned treatment and therapy will cost the patient a considerable investment of time and money they might not have to spend.
Compensation for these medical bills can be obtained via legal action against the manufacturer, contact our 3M earplug lawsuit lawyers for more information.
What are my Legal Rights Related to Hearing Loss After Using 3M Earplugs?
Are you an active-duty service-member or military veteran, or did you serve in another U.S. law enforcement agency at any time since 2003 and suffered a hearing impairment? If so, you might be eligible to receive monetary damages from the negligent earplug manufacturer, 3M.
Receiving compensation for your injuries will never affect the military disability benefits you receive now or in the future. You can maintain your government-paid benefits during and after seeking compensation from 3M because the defective earplugs lawsuit involves a private government contractor and not the U.S. military directly.
You have the right to recover the costs of your medical care, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of ordinary life, and other intangible damages from the defendant or defendants whose wrongdoing caused your injuries.
Our legal team is ready to accept your call 24/7. Let us answer your questions and explain the monetary compensation you are likely entitled to receive.
What is the Status of 3M Earplug Litigation for Injured Parties?
Millions of personnel used the CAEv2 devices, and a substantial minority returned from overseas with hearing complications because of the earplug design flaw. The Moldex-Metric/DOJ lawsuit and settlement does not preclude private parties from filing and individual combat arms earplugs lawsuits against 3M.
Federal whistleblower lawsuits and individually filed civil suits are entirely different matters. In the wake of the DOJ settlement the resolved the government's case against 3M, hundreds of product liability cases have been filed against 3M by individual plaintiffs.
How Many People are in the 3M Lawsuit?
By June 2019, this number was approaching one thousand cases, and indications are this is only the beginning of the litigation the manufacturer will face in court. Plaintiffs' lawyers have been actively publicizing these 3m earplug lawsuits hoping more people will come forward, and this issue is becoming more publicly visible.
In April 2019, a multi-district (MDL) status was granted for the CAEv2 litigation in a Florida federal courtroom. Often, when many lawsuits in federal court are closely related but not suitable for a class action, the cases will be consolidated for the sake of judicial efficiency.
For purposes of discovery and other pre-trial matters, the cases will proceed together, but each lawsuit will be tried separately after several selected "bellwether" cases go to trial. The litigation is still in its early stages and going through pre-trial motions.
Since MDL status was just recently granted, there have been no trial dates set. The number of cases is expected to grow as more potential plaintiffs discover they have suffered hearing damage, and publicity surrounding the case increases.
How do You Prove You Have Tinnitus?
A simple hearing examination performed by an audiologist can diagnose tinnitus in one or both ears. During the audiological examination, you will likely listen to specific sounds while clinching your job, moving your eyes, moving your neck, legs, or arms.
In some cases, the doctor may request you undergo an imaging test to diagnose any physical changes in your ear, inner ear, or head.
How do You Qualify for a 3M Lawsuit?
Your eligibility to file a claim for compensation against 3M requires that you served in any military branch between 2003 and 2015. Additionally, the military must have issued you a dual-cited yellow in Black Combat Arms Earplug set that you used.
Finally, you must be suffering from tinnitus (ringing ears), hearing loss, or another hearing condition.
Has Anyone Received Compensation From the 3M Lawsuit?
In July 2018, jurors in a federal court awarded the United States military $9.1 million to settle their case against 3M. The jurors agreed that 3M had knowingly designed, manufactured, and sold the defective CAEv2 combat earplugs for decades.
How Much are Veterans Getting From 3M?
The $9.1 million jury award was filed under the False Claims Act against the earplug manufacturer to resolve allegations. However, the settlement will not be distributed to injured members of the military, but the federal government and the whistleblower.
Service members who were injured by defective earplugs must file individual claims against 3M to obtain financial compensation.
How Many Veterans are Suing 3M for Faulty Earplugs?
In January 2020, 3M requested that over three dozen cases involving combat earplug defects injuring service members and veterans be moved out of the Minnesota Hennepin District Court. The judge agreed to move the cases to federal court in Minnesota.
Since 2008, over 600 veterans have filed lawsuits making allegations involving defective earplugs manufactured by 3M and Aearo Technologies. Some of these cases have been included in the multidistrict litigation case held in the Central District of Florida.
Our 3M Deafness Attorneys can Help Recover the Compensation You Deserve
If you used 3M's dual combat earplugs as a member of the military, government contractor, or other law enforcement personnel and suffered any hearing damage, contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. Let's discuss how you can file a CAEv2 earplugs lawsuit of your own to be compensated for your injury.
Our dedicated team of combat earplug defect attorneys works on contingency, so you owe no legal fees until we win financial recovery on your behalf. Call us today for a free case evaluation.
Attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld prepared this material. The page was updated on August 31, 2020, and will be updated as the pending litigation develops.