As a mom of a former United States Marine, who served in combat in Iraq, I had many things to worry when my son entered the military. I worried he might not survive bootcamp, or that he might not receive our letters and packages. Most of all, I worried about him returning home safely to his family. One thing I never worried about was whether the protective equipment assigned to him would function properly.
Imagine my surprise when I learned in July of 2018, that the 3M earplugs assigned to my son and other soldiers were defective. Since 9-11 there have been over 2.7 million troops deployed. Government research indicates that one pair of 3M earplugs was assigned to each deployed soldier from 2003-2015. I learned that The United States Government pursued a case against 3M, under the False Claims Act, alleging that 3M knowingly sold earplugs for profit, without disclosing there was a material defect in their design. These combat-focused hearing protection devices were the standard military-issue earplugs for nearly 10 years. This caused thousands of military personnel to not have protection from dangerous sounds, when they thought they were being protected. Many of these soldiers may have suffered hearing loss issues due to using these earplugs.
The issue with the earplugs is quite serious. 3M’s standard instructions called for insertion of the device in a manner that would create a snug fit preventing exposure to noise. However, an inherent defect in the device prevented the protective fit from occurring. 3M, and its predecessor Aearo, who initially designed these earplugs, became aware of the defect, but continued to sell the defective earplugs to the government. 3M, who acquired Aearo, was fined $9.1 million dollars by the Justice Department to settle the claim that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to our military. The Department of Justice formally announced this on July 28, 2018.
Veterans that used these earplugs have been suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus. These conditions cannot be cured and worsen as the veteran gets older. Veterans with these conditions suffer from sleep deprivation, hearing issues, stress, ringing of the ears, and loss of quality of life. Based upon the length of time these earplugs were used, and the number of hearing loss-related disabilities reported to the VA, it is possible that hundreds of thousands of military personnel may have been injured by these earplugs.
If you are a veteran who served from 2003-2015 and used the 3M earplugs, pictured here, please call us. There currently is a class action in the Northern District of Florida. We have filed many of these cases and will investigate to see if your claim, too, can be in the current class action. We can speak virtually or in person. Just remember there is not an unlimited time to present your claim, and you must act promptly to protect your interests.
Please call us for a free and confidential 3M consultation. We would like to help you!