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In 2000, Aearo Technologies, now owned by 3M, manufactured the Combat Arms Earplugs ™ (CAEv2). In making the earplugs, the company realized a design defect made them too short to properly seal the ear canal from damaging noise. Not even trained audiologists could tell the earplugs fit loosely, and thousands of military service members entered into combat with a false sense of hearing protection against deafening high-level noise. Instead of correcting their mistake, 3M allegedly knowingly sold the faulty earplugs to the US government, who issued them as standard for military personnel between 2003 and 2015. The 3M earplugs with their unique dual-ended design allowed soldiers to insert the olive side to protect against all sound. With the yellow side inserted, it protected against explosions but allowed soldiers to hear spoken commands or approaching enemies.
Tinnitus and hearing loss are the top causes of service-related disability among military personnel, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Hundreds of military men and women who used these earplugs are filing lawsuits against 3M and Aearo after they suffered hearing damage. Many of these lawsuits have been combined in a mass litigation in a Florida federal court. As of July 2019, there were 1,220 combat earplug lawsuits pending against 3M in that litigation.
Some military service members may have suffered serious hearing damage when the 3M earplugs they depended on loosened and exposed them to dangerous sound levels. The dual-ended ear plugs were too short to be properly inserted into users’ ears. When the ear plugs are not firmly in place, it can lead to hearing loss or tinnitus. According to the Department of Defense, symptoms of combat-related hearing problems include:
• Difficulty hearing someone talking three feet away
• Difficulty understanding what people are saying
• Buzzing or ringing in the ears
• A feeling of “fullness” in the ears after leaving a noisy area, such as a concert venue
Tinnitus and hearing loss can also affect more than someone’s hearing. In fact, 58% of military veterans who had tinnitus were also diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
In July 2018, 3M paid $9.1 million to resolve Department of Defense allegations that the company sold dangerous and defective Combat Arms Earplugs ™ (CAEv2) to the military for more than a decade without warning they were defective. Although that case has been resolved, all claims within the settlement were allegations only, and there was no determination of liability, according to the Department of Justice.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with, or are suffering from, hearing loss or tinnitus after serving in the military between 2003 and 2015 and wearing defective earplugs; you need to speak up! You might be eligible for financial compensation for your pain and suffering. Don’t suffer in silence. Fill out a no-cost claim review to see if you are eligible to receive compensation. – complete the free and easy claim review form today.
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