3M Combat Arms Earplugs Litigation

What did 3M do wrong?

The 3M Company (3M) is believed to have knowingly sold defective earplugs to the United States military, which, in turn, caused hearing loss and hearing damage to thousands of our active duty personnel and combat veterans.  The dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) were intended to be used in military training and combat conditions and were distributed to troops between 2003 and 2015. We believe Aero Technologies, Inc. (purchased by 3M in 2008) and 3M knew for ten years, or more, that the earplugs were defective and would cause permanent injury to our troops.

What is wrong with the earplugs?

The earplugs were dual-ended and color-coded: yellow for Weapons-Fire mode and green for Closed/Constant Protection Mode. The yellow end was supposed to filter sound and selectively restrict loud blasts while still allowing you to hear lower level sound like commands and conversations. The green end was supposed to protect against all sound, including constant noise from aircraft or vehicles. For the earplugs to protect from ear damage and hearing loss, they had to be properly inserted into the ear canal. If the earplug became loose in the ear canal, then the user would be vulnerable to hearing damage and loss. As it turned out, the earplugs were defectively designed and regularly loosened in the ear canal. Making matters worse, the movement was imperceptible to the users, leaving them unaware their protective gear had failed them and vulnerable to temporary and permanent hearing damage and loss. 3M quit manufacturing the earplugs in 2015.

Why did 3M agree to pay $9.1 million to the United States?  

A whistleblower revealed in 2016 that 3M and Aero knew the earplugs were defective but nevertheless continued selling them. Not only did the earplugs have a flange that would predictably loosen, but the earplugs were actually too short for correct installation. It is even alleged that Aero intentionally falsified its internal noise reduction rating test results and continued selling the earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency anyway. Recently, the Department of Justice announced that 3M would pay $9.1 million to end the claims that 3M defrauded the government and put service members' health and welfare at risk by selling defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency. The $9.1 million is to compensate the government and is not intended to compensate any individual service member. 


How do I know if I have a claim?

Although 3M's settlement with the DOJ does not compensate individual service members for any hearing damages or loss they suffered while using 3M Combat Arms Military Earplugs, you can bring your own lawsuit against 3M and Aero for compensation for hearing loss caused by the earplugs. 


You may have a claim if you or a loved one:


  • Used 3M Combat Arms Military Earplugs (especially while in Iraq or Afghanistan); and

  • The use occurred between 2003 and 2015; and

  • You have suffered documented hearing loss, hearing damage or tinnitus.


If you believe you meet this criteria, you should contact The Cochran Firm immediately. We will undertake a free case review and help you understand whether you are eligible to file suit and, if so, what you may be entitled to receive. Do not delay in obtaining legal help because filing deadlines vary in each state according to the statute of limitations. Call us now.  (334) 673-1555.


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