Manufacturers of earplugs and products impacting consumer health are required to follow strict safety guidelines according to the law. However, the recent news and litigation surrounding the 3M earplugs show that the manufacturer might not have followed these requirements. Instead, they may have compromised the health of the users.
Developed by Aaero Technologies and manufactured by 3M, the 3M Combat Earplugs were exclusively used by members of the armed forces deployed in Iran and Afghanistan. The United States Defence Logistics Agency provided these earplugs to military service members to help them safeguard their ears and hearing. From 2003 to 2015, veterans and service members from the Army, Navy, and Air Force used the earplugs to protect themselves from the loud noises and sounds of explosions, gunfire, and aircraft.
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The users of these dual-ended earplugs could choose the side of the earplug they wanted to use, depending on the kind of noise. The earplugs were intended to protect against both indoor and outdoor noises. However, users realized later on that these earplugs may have certain defects and might be causing harm to their ears. As a result, many service members complained that they suffered from conditions they were supposed to be protected against while using the earplugs.
Conditions Resulting From 3M Earplugs
Members of the armed forces complained that they suffered from the following side effects after using 3M Earplugs:
- Hearing Loss
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Permanent Hearing Damage
Allegations and Litigation Against 3M
Allegations of defective design were made against 3M. It was alleged that the earplugs were too short, and when inserted into the ear canal, would loosen and shift. The users remained unaware of the shifting and, as a result, they were exposed to dangerous levels of noise that damaged their ears and hearing capacity.
Lawsuits against 3M alleged that the manufacturer was aware of the defects in the earplugs and failed to disclose them to the government. Cases were also filed under the False Claims Act against 3M. The whistleblower allegations under the act claimed that false claims were made to get money from the government. A $9.1 million settlement was made between the US government and 3M under the False Claims Act.
Do I Have an Individual Case Against 3M?
The current litigation against 3M is a multi-district litigation (MDL) and not a class-action lawsuit. Even though similar cases are combined in an MDL, each veteran or service member still can make an individual case against 3M to seek compensation. The $9.1 million settlement will be received by the government and not be distributed among the users of 3M. Rather, each user’s compensation claim will be determined based on the damage suffered by them. Furthermore, a personal injury lawsuit will not impact a veteran’s disability benefits directly.
Are You Entitled to Claim Compensation for Defective 3M Earplugs?
A product liability claim may be made against 3M for their defective earplugs. A product liability lawsuit can be filed for manufacturing and design defects as well as marketing defects including failure to warn. Our experienced defective product attorneys at Stewart & Stewart can help users of 3M earplugs who suffered the harmful conditions associated with the product. We’ll help you seek the compensation you deserve.
If you’re a veteran or a military service member, used the 3M earplugs between 2003 and 2015, and are experiencing the conditions mentioned above, contact Stewart & Stewart today to learn if you’re entitled to compensation. We offer a free initial consultation and will help you evaluate if you’re qualified to file a lawsuit against 3M.
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