3M to Pay $9.1 Million to Settle Defective Ear Plug Claim
Injured Military Personnel May Have Claims Over Defective Earplugs
If you served in the armed forces of the United States between 2003 and 2015, and use the dual-end or reversible “Combat Arms” earplugs, you may be entitled to compensation, provided you can show that you were subsequently diagnosed with tinnitus or any type of combat-related hearing loss. According to lawsuits already filed, the earplugs, designed and manufactured by the Minnesota-based company 3M, did not create a tight seal in the ear, allowing high-decibel sounds to enter the ear canal, unbeknownst to users. 3M boasted that the design would allow users to hear commands from comrades or senior officer, and even approaching enemies, without impairment, but would protect against any hearing loss. Accordingly, users suffered hearing damage while believing they were protected from hearing loss.
In July, 2018, the United States Department of Justice announced that 3M had agreed to settle a federal claim against the company for $9.1 million. That claim, however, was made under the False Claims Act, a federal statute that allows the government to recover compensation from individuals and companies that commit a fraud on the government. Because the 3M contract was with the military, and because there was evidence that 3M employees knew as early as 2000 that the earplugs were defectively designed, the federal claim against 3M was strong.
The evidence in the False Claims Act case also included documents that showed that 3M had conducted testing that showed that the earplugs were ineffective, but misrepresented the test results in certification proceedings, wrongfully alleging that the product met military standards and specifications. According to estimates, the company provided the armed forces with approximately 750,000 pairs of the earplugs every year, from 2006 until 2015, when the product was discontinued. However, the earplugs were never recalled, so have been in continual use since 2015.
A federal lawsuit under the False Claims Act is essentially a whistleblower action. In the 3M case, one of 3M’s competitors, Moldex, brought the defective design to the attention of the federal government. Under the provisions of the False Claims Act, Moldex is entitled to share in the proceeds of any verdict or settlement. Moldex received nearly $2 million of the $9.1 million settlement.
Are you Suffering from a Defective Earplugs Injury?
It’s important to understand that the settlement under the False Claims Act does not have any impact on the rights of individuals who suffered personal injury because of the defective design of the Combat Arms earplugs. That settlement only addresses the fraud perpetrated on the U.S. military and the federal government.
Accordingly, if you or someone you love served in any branch of the armed forces from 2003 until the present, used the 3M Combat Arms earplugs, version 2 (known as CAEv2), you should immediately contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your options. A number of lawsuits have already been filed, many of which include demands for punitive damages, based on 3M’s gross negligence.
Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers to Fight your Defective Earplugs Claim
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.