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3m Combat Earplugs
DEFECTIVE 3M COMBAT EARPLUGS – WHAT THEY KNEW, WHEN THEY KNEW IT
The brave men and women in the U.S. military put their lives on the line everyday to protect and serve our country. They deserve the best equipment available to ensure their safe and healthy return home. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, version 2 (CAEv2) and now potentially millions of service men and women could have permanent hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears).
WHAT THEY KNEW
Aearo Technologies originally manufactured the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs and then was sold to 3M in 2008. As stated in the name, the product was intended for use in combat and was specifically intended to protect United States Air Force (“USAF”) service men and women from damaging and disabling noise during combat and other military missions. It had a dual purpose with each end of the plug providing a different kind of protection; one to be used to hear speech and the other side to completely block out sound.
In a lawsuit brought against 3M by the U.S. military, it was stated that the earplugs were too short to be properly inserted into the soldiers’ ears and that the device could come loose without the soldier realizing it. When the military first issued solicitations, they explained the minimum requirements the earplugs had to meet, including that the earplugs be “suitable for use as hearing protectors for military personnel in chronically noisy environments.” However, the Combat Arms Earplugs 3M supplied did not meet these requirements and 3M knew this at the time it sold the earplugs. Aearo Technologies and 3M were accused of knowing about the design flaw but not disclosing this information to the military. In July 2018, the Department of Justice announced that 3M agreed to pay the U.S. military $9.1 million.
WHEN THEY KNEW IT
According to the lawsuit, it is suspected that Aero Technologies knew about the problematic design as early as 2000 and that 3M was made aware of the problem but failed to notify the U.S. military. The Environmental Protection Agency requires manufacturers like 3M to test and label the Noise Reduction Rating of hearing protection devices like the Combat Arms Earplugs. 3M did not commission an independent lab to conduct the testing as required by federal law and military solicitations but instead conducted the testing in-house. 8 out of 10 of the earplugs didn’t pass the tests and were deemed “defective”. An investigation revealed that that the Combat Arms Earplugs were too short and that the flanges on one side of the earplug interfered with the proper fit of the opposite side to offer proper sound protection. If the flanges were folded back a certain way, researchers found that the earplugs would become more secure. However, soldiers weren’t warned that this product was defective nor were they told how to properly use them for maximum sound blockage.
Equally concerning is that 3M was the exclusive supplier of this type of product for the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency which may have been used in the following military events between 2003 – 2015:
- The Iraq War
- War in Afghanistan
- War in North-West Pakistan
- War in Somalia
- Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
- American-led intervention in Libya, Iraq, and Syria
- Yemeni Civil War
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you served in the military during 2003 – 2016, used CAEv2 earplugs, and are now experiencing permanent or semi-permanent hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), you may be able to file a claim. Dangerous sound levels are involved with training and in combat, and the makers of these poorly designed earplugs allegedly withheld this important information from the government. 3M needs to be held accountable for deliberately and needlessly putting our servicemen and women at risk. Contact Periscope Group today at (800) 511-3838.