Our team at Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A. is always supportive of veterans: those brave individuals who put their lives on the line to protect our rights as Americans. Anyone who has served in our Armed Forces has sacrificed much for the greater good. Sadly, their sacrifices may not have all been necessary. Recent evidence has shown 3M may have sold defective earplugs to the military. The product in question, dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) were sold between 2003 and 2015, with millions of the allegedly faulty product making it to servicemembers.
Hearing Loss Is Commonplace Among Vets
Though their service may expose them to many dangers, veterans who receive disability support through the VA after their retirement report more cases of tinnitus and hearing loss than any other injury. In 2018, nearly 1.8 million vets received disability payments for tinnitus; an additional 1.16 million were compensated for hearing loss. Exposure to concussive blasts and other dangerously loud noises are to blame for these injuries.
The U.S. military started using CAEv2 earplugs because 3M promised hearing protection that would allow troops to still communicate while in the field. When inserted one way, 3M claimed, the earplugs would block out loud noises but allow soldiers to hear commands and other discussions. The other end of the earplug was supposed to block out all sound. Now, facing allegations the products were defective, 3M denies any ill intent or behavior. However, the substantial number of vets who suffered hearing loss might beg to differ.
Did 3M Falsify Tests and Cover Up Defects?
The Department of Justice (DOJ), in a joint lawsuit against 3M, alleged the company knew about the shortcomings in the earplugs it sold to the government. 3M, the suit claimed, tested the products as early as 2000 and found they did not perform up to standards. If true, the company’s certification of CAEv2 for military use was falsified.
Evidence suggests there’s truth to these accusations. As part of this legal motion, the plaintiffs uncovered internal memos among 3M employees discussing the issue; some members of the company noted the earplugs did not perform to standards and would not work as promised unless the use instructions were changed.
Despite that, our troops who received these earplugs for use in combat received incorrect instructions. It’s possible that, if used properly, the earplugs would have met up to their promises. For some reason, 3M’s testing methods were different than the directions they sent out with the CAEv2 products. This seems like a simple oversight, which makes it all the more frustrating it was not fixed before these earplugs were sent to our troops.
3M denied the claims of falsifying certifications and selling faulty products. However, the company also paid the DOJ $9.1 million to settle the case.
How a Hearing Loss Lawsuit Could Help You
If you served in the U.S. military after 2003, it’s possible you used these earplugs. They were double-ended, with a yellow end (meant to allow the wearer to hear fellow troops while blocking loud noises) and an olive green end (meant to block all sound) and came in a carrying case. If this sounds familiar to you, you could be eligible to file a lawsuit if you are now dealing with tinnitus or hearing loss.
Both tinnitus and hearing loss comes with medical as well as social and psychological costs. These disabilities can impact a patient’s ability to function as normal. For instance, hearing loss can make communicating with others more difficult, whether you’re trying to talk to a boss or a family member. Tinnitus can be a constant distraction that causes everything from memory problems to fatigue to mental illness. The losses linked with this condition can reach $30,000 a year when considering medical costs as well as lost productivity/earning ability. Hearing loss, likewise, can require the use of expensive hearing aids or lead to reparative surgery.
If you suffer from one of these two conditions, you know firsthand how difficult they can make everyday tasks. It’s immoral for any company to sell products that may result in consumers suffering an injury to their hearing, but especially when their target user was a U.S. military member, this behavior is reprehensible. Our Mississippi team is ready to hold 3M accountable for selling faulty earplugs to our troops.
For veterans who suffer hearing loss, we are here to fight for justice and compensation on your behalf. We are so sorry you have been let down by 3M, and we’re ready to do all we can to set things right.