Evidence in 3M Earplug Lawsuit Exposes Corporate Negligence

The 3M earplug lawsuit involves defective earplugs that were supplied to the United States military by 3M Company, a multinational corporation that produces a wide range of consumer and industrial products.

The earplugs, known as Combat Arms Earplugs (CAE), were issued to military personnel between 2003 and 2015 to protect them from hearing damage during combat and training exercises. However, it was discovered that the earplugs were defective and failed to provide adequate protection, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus to thousands of military service members.

As a result, several lawsuits were filed against 3M, alleging that the company knowingly sold faulty earplugs to the military and failed to warn users of the potential risks.

The exposure of this class action lawsuit has brought to light and exposed the corporate negligence of the 3M company. Corporate negligence occurs when a company fails to fulfill its legal or ethical obligations, often resulting in negative effects on its customers, employees, or the environment.

In this article, we will cover:

  • What are 3M earplugs?
  • 3M Earplug Lawsuit: Allegations of Negligence
  • 3M’s Response to the military earplug lawsuit
  • Consequences and implications of the 3M earplug lawsuit

What are 3M Earplugs?

Loud noises from aircraft, guns, explosives, and artillery render military personnel vulnerable to auditory ailments and internal ear damage if they lack the proper protection. This is why the earplugs in question were essential for combat and training exercises.

The 3M Combat Arms earplugs are dual-sided, reusable standard-issue equipment intended to protect service members from hearing loss. The Combat Arms Earplug Version 2 (CAEv2) is designed to safeguard users by blocking out peak-level noise.

The CAEv2 dual-ended earplugs were created to eliminate the need for service members to carry around two different sets of earplugs. When worn in the traditional way, the CAEv2 earplugs block sound as expected; however, if switched around and inserted differently, these earplugs are able to filter out loud combat noise yet allow softer sounds and closer sounds to be heard.

These earplugs were manufactured and supplied between 2003 and 2015 by Aearo Technologies, Inc. and parent company 3M Company. During the deployment of soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, these items were provided as their standard equipment. Although the production of the earplugs ended in 2015, no recall had been issued at that time.

3M Earplug Lawsuit: Allegations of Negligence

3m earplug lawsuit

Despite claiming that the earplugs had a noise reduction rating (NPR) of 22. In reality, the CAEv2 earplugs only had an average NPR of 10.9, which was not enough to meet the standards of hearing protection.

A huge design flaw of these dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs was that they were too small for the Army’s carrying case and were not a good fit on helmets. To remedy this, the design was modified by shortening the earplugs. This allowed the earplugs to properly fit in the Army’s carrying case, however, the new design hindered the device from going deeply into the ear.

A whistleblower lawsuit was filed against 3M claiming that the company knew they had been selling defective earplugs that did not comply with the standards set by the government. Not only had 3M been aware of the flaw in their design, but they had been aware since 2000 and decided to remain silent instead of warning both the government and the military.

In the ongoing 3M earplug lawsuit, thousands of soldiers have alleged that their hearing loss and tinnitus — a ringing sensation in the ears — are likely due to 3M’s defective Combat earplugs.

Military service members are particularly prone to hearing impairments, making it one of the most widespread disabilities in this population. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that hearing problems are the most prevalent service-connected disability among military veterans.

Due to the corporate negligence of 3M, these veterans may need to undergo surgery to verse the effects of hearing loss. In better cases, this damage may be reversed through medication. However, permanent hearing damage is irreversible, causing these servicemen a lifetime of long-term consequences.

The Veterans Benefits Administration compensation report shares that in 2020, more than 1.3 million veterans were granted disability benefits for hearing loss, and more than 2.3 million veterans received compensation for tinnitus.

Did you suffer a hearing disorder from using Combat Arms Earplugs by 3M?

3M’s Response to the Military Earplug Lawsuit

3M has argued that their CAEv2 earplugs do not have a design defect, but only malfunction when there is no proper insertion. 3M claims that they worked in “close coordination” with the U.S. military in designing the earplugs, and developed them according to the specifications requested by and agreed upon by the representatives acting on behalf of the military.

The military’s influence during the designing of the earplugs has caused 3M to attempt to use a government-contractor defense in an effort to exonerate itself from any liability, even if it is found that these earplugs are flawed.

Due to the lack of a written contract between the government and Aearo Technologies regarding the design or manufacturing of the CAEv2 earplugs, the MDL judge has rejected 3M’s government-contractor defense.

Consequences and Implications of the 3M Earplug Lawsuit

Due to a large number of U.S. veterans, about 290,000, being injured due to the negligence of 3M, the claims by plaintiffs have become a class action lawsuit.

What is the average payout for the 3M earplug lawsuit? Taking into account the outcomes of past hearing loss cases, it is likely that the 3M earplug lawsuit verdict could earn claimants between $25,000 and $300,000 each. Although plaintiffs of the first hearing protection trials recovered over $2 million in settlement amounts to veterans. The settlement awards may be less, though still substantial.

It is hard to determine the average value of the 3M earplug lawsuits. The amount of money military veterans may receive will depend on factors such as the severity of their injuries.

The consequences of the 3M earplug lawsuits echo out to other businesses and corporations as well. Not only do these cases of corporate negligence harm the business’s reputation, but it also costs them thousands, if not millions of dollars in the long run.

Do You Have a Case? Contact Farahi Law Firm To Find Out!

3M and Aearo Technologies’ corporate negligence has caused thousands of veterans to experience hearing loss and tinnitus, greatly affecting their lives due to a lack of transparency. 

3M has tried to argue that the government was in fact aware of the design and tries to wash its hands of liability, but a whistleblower has claimed that this was not the case and 3M was aware of the defective product.

Through the 3M earplug trials, many of those affected are seeking to recover compensation for their damages. Companies must take responsibility for their actions and ensure the safety of their consumers with every product made, most especially if this product is made specifically to protect consumers.

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries such as hearing loss or tinnitus due to the negligence of these corporations, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. At Farahi Law Firm, we will fight to ensure that you not only receive the maximum compensation possible for your injuries, but also the justice you deserve!

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case consultation. Our experienced team of lawyers, doctors, and case managers is here to help! Call us at (844) 824-2955! We are available 24/7.

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