Nicolet Law Office, S.C.

3M on the hook for $9.1 million for defective military earplugs

How are they defective?

At first glance, the earplugs appear to have numerous advantages. They're lightweight, compact and quick to pop in without interfering with helmets or other equipment. One side is designed to block all sound, and the other only loud impulse sounds, allowing soldiers to still hear voices and other sounds to stay aware of their surroundings.

The problem? The earplugs appear to have been too short for many users. Unable to form a proper seal in the ear canal, they gradually and imperceptibly loosened, rendering them useless. Indeed, testing confirmed that they have a noise reduction rating of zero.

According to a recent whistleblower lawsuit, the earplug manufacturer, 3M and its predecessor Aearo Technologies, knew about this defect but still sold the earplugs to the military without disclosing it. Last summer, 3M settled the lawsuit, agreeing to pay $9.1 million to resolve claims without admitting liability.

Who can pursue compensation?

You might be eligible for compensation if:

  • You served in the military between 2003 and 2015
  • You used dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs
  • You have since suffered from hearing damage

Hearing damage can take the form of partial hearing loss, which sometimes goes unnoticed. Auditory testing can determine the extent of this loss. Tinnitus - that is, persistent ringing or buzzing in the ears - is also a symptom of hearing damage.

Get in touch with a lawyer at our team to learn more.

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