Notable Minnesota manufacturing conglomerate 3M recently settled their claim with the United States Military over their allegedly defective earplugs that were sold after prior knowledge the earplugs were ineffective.
These earplugs were originally marketed as “combat earplugs”: designed for the purpose of blocking out the loud noises experienced by troops fighting in the front lines. Two different versions of these earplugs were designed: a single-ended model and a dual-ended model.
In the case of the dual-ended model, the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, those were allegedly sold to the US government with the knowledge the earplugs were not fully operational. These earplugs were a standard issue piece of equipment until the product was discontinued.
The appeal of the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs was their namesake duality function. When worn on one side, it allowed the wearer to hear the sounds around them at a reasonable volume, such as verbal commands on the battlefield. When worn in the opposite direction, the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs acted as an extra layer of protection from the sounds of gunfire and explosions.
While in theory, this comes off as a revolutionary product, the reality of the situation was the earplugs did not reach deep enough into the ear canal to provide adequate protection. Because of this flaw, the earplugs would come loose during battle and cause damaging sounds to enter the ear. This has led to tinnitus and hearing loss to US Troops and Veterans who wore the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs.
3M Settles $9.1 Million with U.S. Military
It was announced by the Department of Justice on July 26, 2018, that 3M Company would pay $9.1 Million after the company sold the U.S. Military a massive supply of defective earplugs. The lawsuits alleged the 3M Company sold these products with the knowledge the earplugs would be defective.
“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the men and women serving in the United States military from defective products and fraudulent conduct,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler, who works in the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.
The brave men and women of our military were left out to dry and to have their hearing permanently altered in the name of corporate greed. The Department of Justice has gone out of its way to make an example of 3M and hopefully will prevent other companies from taking advantage of our Government employees.
“Today’s settlement will ensure that those who do business with the government know that their actions will not go unnoticed,” Said Frank Robey, director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.
3M Fails to Acknowledge Defective Products
The Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs are officially an Aearo Technologies product, who as a company were allegedly aware of the product’s defects as early as 2000.
$1.9 million of the $9.1 million settlement is going to Moldex-Metric, who was instrumental in exposing the fraud 3M was engaging in. Moldex-
Metric, a noted competitor of 3M, filed a whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act — giving Moldex-Metric the ability to file suit on behalf of the United States government.
Possibly the most egregious act committed by 3M is the accusation involving 3M fabricating the test results of the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs. It is these accusations which have ultimately led to the lawsuit which ended in 3M paying out the $9.1 million to the U.S. Government.
Tinnitus: How does it Affect Hearing?
Tinnitus is defined as a continuous ringing of the ears due to being exposed to loud noises over an extended period of time. Tinnitus is a common disability among veterans because of their prolonged exposure to gunfire and explosions in the frontlines of battle.
Some of the sounds you can experience while suffering from Tinnitus are:
While Tinnitus isn’t the same as hearing loss, which is the total inability to hear a sound, this is a condition suffered by veterans who have worn the defective earplugs produced by 3M. Hearing loss is at times untreatable and can affect a person’s life permanently in a negative way.
Have you Suffered Hearing Damages from Earplugs?
Are you are a U.S. Veteran or are currently enlisted in the U.S. Military and have experienced tinnitus or hearing loss caused by the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, then contact Gary Falkowitz today. There is a chance you are entitled to compensation for any damage you have suffered from either Tinnitus and hearing loss. Our team will protect our veterans from greedy corporations who will exploit them for easy profit. Call the Falkowitz Law Firm today for a free consultation on your injuries.
It is important to note that this is NOT a VA claim and should not impact any claim you have with the VA at this time.
Gary P. Falkowitz is the Managing Partner and Founding Attorney of the Falkowitz Law Firm PLLC‚ one of the premiere personal injury law firms in New York. Gary received his J.D., in 2005 from St. John’s University School of Law and served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.