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Lawsuits over Defective 3M Ear Plugs Sold to U.S. Military

Posted by David P. McCormack

David P. McCormack
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David’s technical and analytical approach to personal injury cases has served his clients well for over 15 years. Recognized for his commitment and intensity, David has consistently been recognized by his peers, and has successfully argued in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Meet David

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Recent lawsuits filed throughout the country claim that 3M Company knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military. These lawsuits are being filed on behalf of service members and veterans who suffered hearing damage because of these defective earplugs.  The lawsuits allege that thousands of service members, including soldiers serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, may have used these defective 3M “Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs” between 2003 and 2015.

3M’s “Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs” are intended to  protect service members from loud and damaging impact noises such as those resulting from the use of firearms. Depending on which end is inserted into the ear, the earplugs were designed to allow the user to hear at two different levels: one for low-level sounds; and one for impulse noise, such as gunfire or explosions. The problem? They simply did not work.

Defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs sold to US Military may have caused hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), permanent hearing damage, or deafness 

3M Settled Justice Department Lawsuit

Last July, the Justice Department’s Civil Division announced a $9.1M settlement with 3M over Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs. The government alleged that the design of the earplugs did not allow for a tight enough seal to be effective in preventing hearing loss, tinnitus and/or permanent hearing damage.  As a result, this defect allowed high-decibel noises to enter the ear canal, leaving service members’ hearing unprotected. As the plugs were too short for correct insertion and could loosen without being noticed, they were found to be ineffective for the vast majority of service members who previously were not hearing impaired nor suffered from tinnitus. 

“Government contractors who seek to profit at the expense of our military will face appropriate consequences," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division in a press release.

SUGARMAN is representing Veterans and Service Members who used 3M’s Defective Earplugs

SUGARMAN has a long history of advocating on behalf of veterans and service members.  We are proud that our two founding partners, Paul and Neil Sugarman, are veterans – both having served in the Army. We are please to now be continuing this tradition by investigating claims involving these defective earplugs.  

Hearing loss is a widespread problem for service members, and according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 933,000 veterans have been receiving disability compensation for hearing loss as of 2014, and nearly 1.3 million for tinnitus, considered the number one disability among veterans. Many of the veterans affected used these defective 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs and may be able to hold 3M accountable for its deceptive practices in selling this product to the military.  

If you or a loved one was issued and used 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs while in the military and have been diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus,  SUGARMAN’s personal injury lawyers can help. Fill out a Contact Form, call us at 617-542-1000 or email info@sugarman.com.