soldier wearing camouflage helmet looking at cameraNoise-induced hearing loss is both a “significant impairment in the military” and a “major preventable disease” according to a study published in the Journal of Military Medical Research. The authors of this study found that the best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to use hearing protection devices.

Earplugs or other hearing protection devices only prevent hearing loss, however, if they are properly designed to do the job that they are supposed to do effectively.

Dual Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 Didn’t Work as Expected

From 2003 to 2015, thousands of U.S. servicemembers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq were issued dual-ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs Version 2. These earplugs were meant to prevent servicemembers from suffering injuries such as hearing loss and tinnitus.

Unfortunately, these earplugs did not work as expected. It has been alleged that they were too short to be properly inserted into soldiers’ ears and that they could become loose. If this happened, then servicemembers may have been exposed to dangerous noise levels and may have suffered serious and permanent injuries that could have been prevented by properly designed ear protection.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Suffered by Service Personnel

Machinery, aircraft, large vehicles, and gunfire all create a lot of loud noise. Without adequate protection, this noise can result in one of the following conditions:

  • Tinnitus. Tinnitus is the most common injury among United States veterans. If you hear constant ringing, hissing, or other noise even when nothing is making noise, you might have tinnitus. Currently, there is no cure for tinnitus.
  • Hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises can also result in hearing loss. Some hearing loss is reversible with surgery or helped by hearing aids, but sometimes, the loss is permanent.

Dual-ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs Version 2 were supposed to help protect servicemembers from these kinds of injuries.

Department of Justice Settles Case Against 3M for Defective Earplugs

In July 2018, the United States Department of Justice settled a case with 3M, the manufacturer of dual-ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs Version 2. The case alleged that 3M and Aearo Technologies, the company that manufactured the earplugs before 3M, knew that, “…the CAEv2 was too short for proper insertion into users’ ears and that the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefore did not perform well for certain individuals.” The United States alleged that 3M knew about the design defect and failed to disclose it to the government, thereby putting military men and women at risk.

3M did not admit liability in the settlement but did settle the case for $9.1 million.

The case settled by the United States was brought under the False Claims Act to protect taxpayers who paid for the defective product. It was an important case, but it may not result in individual recoveries for the servicemen and women who were hurt due to 3M’s allegedly flawed dual-ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs Version 2.

Injured Soldiers Deserve Fair Recoveries for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Injuries

If you suffered hearing loss or tinnitus after using this product in the military, you may have the right to recover compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered. However, 3M has not yet admitted liability for the design defect, and you can expect that the company will fight allegations of wrongdoing and demands for compensation.

You will need to fight for your right to recover fair compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Gray and White Law have experience seeking recoveries from large companies. We fight aggressively for the rights of injured people, and we would be honored to protect the rights of military men and women who have served our country so honorably. Wherever you are located in the United States, our Louisville lawyers are here to help you. Call us any time—24/7/365—at 888-450-4456 or fill out our online contact form to learn more.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law