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3M Hearing Loss Lawsuit: Military Veterans Report Hearing Loss Due to Earplugs

by Yucatan Times
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3M earplugs used by military veterans have been linked to hearing loss and tinnitus.

In recent years, the U.S. military has been using earplugs to protect soldiers from the loud noises of battle. However, these earplugs may be doing more harm than good. According to a new report, many military veterans are now suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) due to the use of these earplugs.

Recently, the 3M Hearing Loss Lawsuit has been making the headlines again, alleging that the company knew about the defects in its Combat Arms Earplugs but failed to warn the soldiers who used them. The report claims that the earplugs did not fit properly and allowed loud noises to seep through. The lawsuit requests proper compensation for the injuries caused by the defective earplugs, encouraging military veterans to seek more information from local law firms on the process of acquiring the said compensation. The lawsuit requests that 3M create a fund to cover the costs of medical treatment and monitoring for those who have been affected. 

The CAEv2 earplugs were standard issues for soldiers between 2003 and 2015. According to 3M, with CAEv2, soldiers won’t need to pack two different pairs of earplugs. These earplugs have two ends, one for blocking sounds like conventional earplugs and the other for blocking specific loud battlefield noises while allowing the wearer to hear gentle, and nearer sounds.

During the time it was issued, more than 3 million service members were already exposed to dangerous levels of noise while using the earplugs. As a result, many of them now suffer from hearing loss, tinnitus, and other permanent damage to their auditory system.

3M’s Combat Arms earplugs were given to members of the military from 2003 to 2015. They are thought to have been supplied largely during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it was allegedly utilized in operations in Northwest Pakistan, Somalia, the Indian Ocean, Libya (2011 and 2015), Iraq (2014-2017), Syria (2014), and the Yemen Civil War (2015) too.  

The CAEv2 earplugs, according to 3M, are not improperly designed. However, if worn improperly, will not function as intended. According to 3M’s website, the CAEv2 is a “major innovation in hearing protection,” and the business stands behind the product’s use and security. It was said to have been created in “close coordination” with the US military and includes improvements that have been “requested and accepted” by specific army representatives.

However, in July 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed against 3M Company by two military veterans. The lawsuit alleges that the company knew that its Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) was defective and failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks associated with using them.

By 2018, 3M paid $9.1 million to settle allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military. The company also agreed to plead guilty to violating the False Claims Act by selling or causing to be sold defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency.

In 2022, more than 230,000 lawsuits were filed against 3M Company, still for the allegations that it sold substandard earplugs to the US military. 3M was forced to pay out more than $77 million in ear plug lawsuit settlements to victims. 

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