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3M Military Earplugs Lawsuits

Multinational conglomerate corporation 3M has been taken to court over false statements made regarding their defective “Combat Arms” earplugs, which were sold to the United States military from 2003 to 2012. The lawsuit alleges 3M knew of the defects, which resulted in soldiers developing hearing loss or tinnitus during their deployments. If you or a loved one have experienced hearing loss or any negative hearing affects and used these earplugs at any time during your tenure in the military, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact a personal injury attorney at the Cambridge firm of Altman & Altman LLP today.

History Behind the Earplugs

Originally created by Aearo Technologies, 3M acquired the earplug technology that would become Combat Arms earplugs in 2008. Designed to be multi-purposeful, the earplugs are supposed to allow a soldier to block out all noises as traditional earplugs do, or flip them the opposite direction and allow them to hear soft noises – like a fellow soldier whispering something to them – while still blocking the loud sounds of the battlefield.

According to the court complaint, 3M hired Aearo employees who had worked on development of the earplugs, and these employees were aware of defects within the earplugs as early as 2000, “several years before 3M/Aearo became the exclusive provider of the earplugs to the military.” 3M won a bid to become the exclusive supplier of earplugs to the military between 2003 and 2012.

3M Knew About This Crucial Defect

The defect that was known by the company, per the complaint, was that the earplugs could easily become loosened within the ear – “imperceptibly to the wearer and even trained audiologists visually observing a wearer” – which could enable loud, damaging sounds to enter the ear without the wearer knowing the plugs were not effectively working.

The plug’s very design is described as faulty, as it is difficult to fit into the ear to get a proper seal and the earplug can easily fold into a position that prevents the plug from fitting as intended, and the design malfunction applies to either side as they are symmetrical in design.

According to the complaint, 3M knew of this malfunction because during original re-testing of the product in 2000 – when the plugs were still being designed by Aearo – the technician testing the plug took an extra step to roll back the pieces of the earplug that were not to be inserted into the ear in order to account for the defect. The technician and the scientist documenting the test are still employed by 3M, so they certainly knew of the design flaw.

By responding to a request for proposal from the military, the complaint alleges that Aearo made a false statement or record, and each subsequent claim for payment relative to that contract constitutes a false claim under the False Claims Act. These charges are now the responsibility of 3M, as they acquired Aearo.

Call Altman & Altman Today to get Started on a Claim

According to the lawsuit, Aearo knowingly misled the United States military by selling them a product that did not adequately pass tests intended to ensure the earplugs worked effectively unless a known defect was accounted for prior to insertion of the earplug. However, Aearo never made this defect known, and 3M continued their silence once they bought the company and continued to sell the plugs to the military for nearly five more years.

In the time that the military utilized these Combat Arms earplugs, cases of hearing loss and tinnitus for combat veterans spiked significantly. These injuries cause great financial burden on military veterans and drive up healthcare costs for the Veterans Association. Any combat veteran who utilized these earplugs and suffered hearing loss or damage as a result should contact the law offices of Altman & Altman LLP today to see if you may qualify for financial compensation pending the result of this suit.

We have over 50 years of experience holding companies accountable for defective products, and if the details in this complaint are accurate, 3M has no excuse for allowing a known defective product to be given to our heroic men and women in the armed forces.

Contact us online or call for a free consultation to go over the details of your case today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7.

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