An ongoing 3M lawsuit may be worth millions. Between 2003 and 2015, the US military had a standard issue of earplugs called the dual extended combat version 2 for its soldiers. These earplugs were made by a company called Aearo Technologies. Another company called 3M bought Aearo Technologies in 2008 and continued to honor all contracts made by Aearo Technologies, including the standard-issue earplugs.
However, in May 2016, trouble began for 3M when a whistleblower complaint was filed under the US False claims act alleging that the earplugs were defective and 3M knew about it by Moldex-Metric, Inc. This opened pandora’s box for the company that was forced to settle many 3M lawsuits since.
What Exactly Happened?
The dual extended combat version 2 earplugs issued by 3M had two ends; yellow and black. The yellow end would allow low-frequency sounds to pass, such as conversation sounds, while the black one would stop everything.
The earplugs were modeled into a triangular shape fitting most ear canals and effectively blocking sounds to the eardrums. However, the earplugs turned out to be highly ineffective in their job since they were too small to fit in most people’s earbuds. On top of that, their design itself was ineffective at blocking sounds.
They were the reason for millions of people to suffer hearing loss and tinnitus. As a result, the 3M lawsuit for earplugs became a common tactic to seek redress.
What Was The Need For Earplugs?
The human body can only withstand high noises for 15 minutes or so. The US Federal regulations limit is 115dB for less than 15 minutes. Above this, employers are required to provide hearing protection devices to all employees.
Typically, all combat US soldiers are exposed to 103 to 184dB of sounds for hours together, doing work next to impossible without the hearing protectors.
What Were The Health Complications?
Almost all soldiers who were issued these standard earplugs are now veterans and are suffering either from various cases of hearing loss or from tinnitus, or both.
The company tested the earplugs before rolling them out to the military and reportedly found that they were ineffective and still decided to sell them, putting several thousand people at risk.
Thanks to the whistleblower, the US government found out the truth about the 3M defective products. In an interview, attorney Laura Holland stated that 3M knew their earplugs were defective before signing a contract with the military. This was in direct violation of the false claims act and tantamount to lawsuits.
Because of 3M’s negligence, the soldiers to all whom it was a standard-issue earplug would be facing hearing loss and tinnitus.
Once the whistleblower came forward, the US military engaged in a 3M lawsuit for “gross negligence,”.
The matter never went to court, and the 3M lawsuit settled for a 9.1 Million dollar settlement with the government, of which one million dollars went to the whistleblower.
None of this money went to any of the veterans who either lost or are at risk of losing their hearing and suffering from tinnitus, and all of it went to the US government. On average, 3M paid a total of $1,400 a day for people’s blown eardrums.
But What About The Soldiers?
The exact number of people who had their eardrums blown out or are suffering tinnitus resulted from the defective earplugs sold by 3M. While the US government settled a 9.1 million dollar case, over $1 million of that amount would go to just the whistleblower. Individual people started suing the company for their health issues since the news broke out, and the company has been stuck in lawsuit after lawsuit ever since.
As of late 2018, only the whistleblower could settle with the company with a lawsuit payout. However, over a staggering 2200 lawsuits are pending against the company that the company is trying to fight in court.
Recently, a federal jury in Florida awarded $7.1 million in damages to three Army veterans after concluding that 3M Co. didn’t warn about design flaws in earplugs sold to the US military personnel, leading to hearing loss.
If you are a veteran who has even slight hearing loss or even a mild case of tinnitus, you would be eligible to be paid compensation for your health. The best course of action for you would be to contact an able lawyer.
Thus, if you are a veteran facing the side effects of a 3M earplug, we are here to help you. Talk with our attorneys who are experienced in dealing with this 3M lawsuit, and seek the right compensation you are eligible for. Contact us to learn more.