3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit

A 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit may be an option for military veterans who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) because of defective dual-ended ear plugs issued to soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat zones from 2003 through 2015.

Contact a Defective Military Earplugs Lawyer Today

The attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard LLP are now offering free, no-obligation legal reviews to military veterans who experienced hearing loss or tinnitus due to the 3M Company’s allegedly defective Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2).

To learn if you qualify to file a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit, please contact our office today at (888) 994-5118.

3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the leading cause of service-related disability affecting military veteran’s in the United States.

Combat soldiers are especially prone to hearing-related disorders, as they are regularly exposed to gun fire, mortar explosions, and other damaging concussive sounds. For that reason, soldiers serving in a combat zones are issued earplugs to protect their hearing. It’s vital that these devices be well designed, free of defects, and perform as intended. American soldiers deserve nothing less!

The 3M Company’s Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, where standard issue for United States military personnel from 2003 through 2015. During that 12-year period, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency distributed millions of these devices to soldiers deployed to combat zones around the world, including those who served in:

  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq
  • North-West Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • Libya

Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, were developed by Aearo Technologies, Inc., which was acquired by the 3M Company in 2008. As a result of the acquisition, many of the Aearo employees who designed and tested CAEv2 became part of the 3M Company.

CAEv2 were dual-ended earplugs, with one side – the olive-colored end – designed to work like a traditional earplug. The yellow end blocked concussive sounds, such as gun fire and explosive blasts, while allowing soldiers to hear low-level sounds and normal speech. They did not require batteries

3M Combat Arms Earplugs: What’s the Problem?

3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, were discontinued in 2016. That same year, however, a competitor company accused 3M of concealing serious design defects that could render the earplugs ineffective and expose soldiers to a risk of permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.

The accusations were made in a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the federal False Claims Act, which allows a private party to sue contractors that have committed fraud against the United States government. If  the lawsuit results in a financial recovery, the whistleblower is entitled to a portion of the proceeds. The federal government may join a whistleblower lawsuit, in which case the U.S. Department of Justice would prosecute the case. If the federal government declines to join, the whistleblower can still pursue the lawsuit on its own.

Specifically, the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit alleged that the CAEv2 were too short and could loosen while in use. Unfortunately, this loosening was not always apparent to soldiers wearing the earplugs, thus exposing them to dangerous sounds and the risk of significant hearing damage.

The lawsuit further alleged that 3M and Aearo Technologies had been aware of these defects since 2000, several years before the 3M Company became the sole provider of selective attenuation earplugs for the United States military. Yet 3M never informed the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency that the earplugs were defective.

3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit Settlement

The U.S. Department of Justice eventually joined the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit. In July 2018, federal prosecutors announced that the 3M Company had agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle the case.

“Through rigorous enforcement of the False Claims Act, we protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse,” said U. S. Attorney Sherri Lydon for the District of South Carolina.  “And in this case in particular, we are proud to defend the integrity of our military programs and ensure that our men and women in uniform are adequately protected as they serve our country.”

Although it agreed to settle the lawsuit, the 3M Company refused to admit that it had engaged in any wrongdoing when it sold CAEv2 to the United States military.  In fact, the company maintained that it only settled the case to avoid the “inconvenience of a long investigation and litigation.”

As part of the settlement, the whistleblower received $1.9 million. The remaining funds were paid to the federal government.  Unfortunately, the agreement did not include any provisions to compensate veterans who may have suffered hearing loss or tinnitus because of defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs.

Learn More About Filing a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit

Military veterans who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus because of defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, deserve to be compensated!

You may be eligible to file a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit if you or loved one:

  • Served in a combat zone as a member of the United States military between 2003 and 2015
  • Were issued 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2)
  • Have since been diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus

For a free, no-obligation review of your case, please fill out the form on this page or contact our legal team at (888) 994-5118.

  1. 3M Company (April 2008) “3M Completes Acquisition of Aearo Technologies Inc.” https://news.3m.com/press-release/company/3m-completes-acquisition-aearo-technologies-inc
  2. DOJ (July 2018) “3M Company Agrees to Pay $9.1 Million to Resolve Allegations That it Supplied the United States With Defective Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs” https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/3m-company-agrees-pay-91-million-resolve-allegations-it-supplied-united-states-defective-dual
  3. Reuters (July 2018) “3M to pay $9.1 million over defective military ear plugs” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-3m-defense-earplugs/3m-to-pay-9-1-million-over-defective-military-ear-plugs-idUSKBN1L21P3
Last Modified: January 11, 2019

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