Between 2003 and 2015, the U.S. Military issued 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. The dual-ended earplugs were designed to give two levels of hearing protection: full protection from loud combat noises and protection from high-level noises while still allowing for low-level noises to be heard.
Unfortunately, due to an allegedly defective design, the earplug stems were not long enough and could loosen, allowing harmful noises to enter and damage the ear canal. As a result, many military members may have suffered hearing loss or tinnitus (an intermittent or constant ringing, buzzing, or other noise in the ear).
In a 2016 lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, 3M, and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., were accused of knowing about the alleged defect and not informing the Defense Logistics Agency before making the sale. Aearo Technologies, Inc. manufactured the earplugs in 2000, and 3M acquired the company in 2008. 3M agreed to pay the U.S. Government $9.1 million to settle the lawsuit, but there was no determination of liability for the allegedly defective design.
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in July 2018, the lawsuit and settlement demonstrate that the government will pursue legal action against companies that try to defraud it and that put at risk the health and lives of the people dedicated to serving this country.
While 3M’s payment settles allegations with the government, military members who were issued the CAEv2 and suffered hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of using the product may be able to pursue individual lawsuits against the company to recover compensation for their injuries.
At Farah Law, our El Paso personal injury attorneys are committed to getting justice for you if your injuries were caused because of the negligence of others. We fight hard to recover fair compensation for you. With over 30 years of combined experience, we provide you with superior legal guidance for your case.
Contact us online or call us at (888) 470-9772 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your hearing loss or tinnitus case.