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Defective 3M® Earplugs Led to Hearing Loss in Thousands of Veterans

The U.S. Military Turned to 3M® for Combat Earplugs

3M® is a company that many people know and trust. For over 100 years, 3M® has provided quality products to consumers all over the world. So, when the United States military needed earplugs for its service members, it’s no surprise that they turned to 3M®. 

For years, the United States military relied on a specific type of earplug made by the 3M® Company. These earplugs, known as Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2), were supposed to protect soldiers’ hearing during combat situations. However, it has recently come to light that the CAEv2 earplugs did not work as intended, and that they actually put soldiers at risk of developing hearing loss and other problems. Here’s a closer look at what happened.

How the Earplugs Failed

3M® combat earplugs were used by the U.S. military from 2003 to 2015. The CAEv2 earplugs were created with a dual-ended design. One end was supposed to offer full protection from loud noises, while the other end was supposed to allow soldiers to hear soft noises like people speaking or commands being given. Unfortunately, the earplugs were too short for many people’s ear canals, which meant that they did not fit snugly and could actually loosen and fall out without the user realizing it. 

In addition, the CAEv2 earplugs were not properly tested before being put into use. Independent testing later found that the earplugs had a number of serious defects, including a flawed design that did not properly block out noise. As a result of these problems, soldiers who used the CAEv2 earplugs while serving in combat zones were at risk of suffering hearing loss, tinnitus (a ringing in the ears), and other injuries. 

The Aftermath of The Defective Earplugs

It is estimated that some 288,000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuit against 3M® alleging the Combat Arms earplugs were defective and hence caused hearing damage. The lawsuits allege that 3M® knew about the defects in their earplugs but failed to warn the military or recall the earplugs. 

In 2018, 3M® agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military. The company did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. However, this is just the beginning of the story. Thousands of veterans have already come forward with lawsuits alleging that they suffered hearing loss or other injuries due to using the defective earplugs. As a result of these defective earplugs, many soldiers have suffered from hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vertigo (a feeling of spinning or whirling). In some cases, these injuries have been so severe that soldiers have been unable to work or live normal lives. It is likely that many more will file suits in the future. 

For its part, 3M® has said that it “stands behind” the CAEv2 earplugs and believes they “were appropriately designed and tested.” The company has also said that it will “vigorously defend” itself against any lawsuits that are filed over the earplugs. Only time will tell how this legal battle plays out—but one thing is for sure: The defective CAEv2 earplugs have had a devastating impact on the lives of many veterans who served our country. 

Where We Go From Here

The false promises made by 3M®’s defective earplugs have had a terrible impact on countless veterans across the United States. If you or someone you know has been affected by these earplugs, please contact an experienced lawyer to discuss your legal options.

For individuals or their loved ones who were injured by 3M® combat earplugs, we recommend that they complete our settlement form. We can then connect you with a leading, experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss legal options.