Am I Entitled to Compensation for 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
3M Earplug Lawsuit in Michigan
For many members of our armed forces, hearing loss and tinnitus is a real danger. In fact, these are the most common types of disability amongst service personnel. In 2017, more than one million veterans received some level of disability compensation for hearing loss and 1.8 million received compensation as a result of suffering tinnitus.
Between the years of 2003 and 2015, the U.S. military were supplied with special dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs, initially by Aearo Technologies Inc., and then by the 3M company, who bought Aearo over in 2008.
Then, in 2016, a whistleblower lawsuit filed by respiratory and hearing protection product manufacturer, Moldex-Metric Inc. claimed that Aearo and 3M had fraudulently supplied defective earplugs between 2003 and 2015. Although 3M did not admit any wrongdoing, they did settle out of court in July 2018 and agreed to pay 9.1 million dollars.
Filing a 3M Combat Arms Earplug Lawsuit
If you were a member of the armed forces between 2004 and 2015, and you used Aearo/3M dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs and have suffered any form of hearing loss or tinnitus, then you may be eligible for compensation.
Any award may include compensation for factors such as the hearing issues themselves, any psychological effects such as anxiety or depression, any decrease in quality of life, and any other related issues.
As of July 2019, there were over 1,200 pending earplug lawsuits against 3M in a mass litigation in Florida.
How are 3M Earplugs Faulty?
The claim made in the original Department of Justice whistleblower lawsuit by Moldex-Metric Inc. was that the earplug stem was too short, meaning that it could not be inserted deep enough into the user’s ear canal and that this meant it was liable to loosen.
This means that the earplugs were not offering adequate levels of protection nor were the levels provided as claimed by the manufacturer.
The wording of the lawsuit said:
“…when the earplug is inserted into the ear according to standard fitting instructions, the basal edge of the third flange of the non-inserted end of the earplug is prone to press against some wearers’ ear canals and fold back to its original shape, thereby loosening the seal.”
The Department of Justice saw the settlement as a major victory that underpinned their work in enforcing the false claims act.
Contact a 3M Defective Earplug Attorney Who Could Help
If you think you may have a claim due to defective 3M earplugs, you need a competent law firm with experience in product liability cases. Where defective products have led to hearing damage or other forms of pain and suffering, service members and former service members have a right to pursue a claim.
How Much Is Your 3M® Dual-Ended Combat Armsâ„¢ Earplugs Case Worth?
As with any product liability or personal injury case, it is difficult to give an estimate of any award the court may make. Each person who has suffered some harm due to this defective product may have differing levels of injury or pain & suffering. What is important is to have an accurate diagnosis of any problems you have suffered or are suffering which can be linked to these earplugs.
There are certain areas where the court may look to award damages or compensation:
- Medical expenses. This can cover both past and future medical care you have needed or will need as a result of hearing loss or tinnitus.
- Loss of wages of prevention of earning. If your issues have caused you to take any time off work or if those issues prevent you from earning a living, then the court will look at these economic damages. Any award regarding loss of future income is known as compensation for diminished earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering. While not always easy to calculate, this can be a significant part of any award made. It is broken down into two types; physical and psychological. The physical part refers to any actual physical effects due to your medical issues, such as discomfort or pain. The psychological part can refer to a number of effects you may have experienced as a result of your conditions, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Frequently Asked Questions About 3M Combat Arms Earplug Lawsuits
- Who can make a claim? Any former member of the armed services who served after 2003 – or a family member of that person – where the former serviceperson has suffered some form of hearing issues.
- How much will it cost me to file a claim? Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. operates on a contingency fee basis. That means you have no fees to pay unless we win the case.
- Will my claim be individual or will I end up as part of a class action lawsuit? Due to the fact that these defective earplugs were used by millions of service personnel between 2003 and 2015, most claims will likely be consolidated into MDLs (Multi-District Litigation). This makes the legal process more efficient and less time consuming.
What Types of Damages Am I Entitled To?
Depending on the severity of your injuries or conditions, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, economic harm, and pain and suffering.
How to Know if You’re Eligible for the Lawsuit
If you served in any branch of the military, including the navy, army, or air force,
between 2003 and 2015, were issued 3M Dual-End or Reversible Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2), and have suffered from tinnitus or any level of hearing loss, then you may be eligible to file a lawsuit.
Who Can Make a Claim for 3M Defective Earplugs Compensation?
Any former serviceperson or a family member filing on their behalf, where the serviceperson served between 2003 and 2015 and has suffered hearing-related issues.
What If I Already Get Veterans’ Benefits for Hearing Loss?
As any lawsuit is being pursued against the manufacturer of these earplugs and not the U.S. Government, there will be no effect on any V.A. benefits or disability compensation that you are already receiving for hearing loss or tinnitus.
How Long Do I Have to Decide if I Want to Pursue Legal Action Against 3M?
If you served in any branch of the military in the years listed and have suffered some form of hearing loss or tinnitus since, then you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The laws and regulations governing time limits on certain types of legal cases can vary greatly from state to state. It is advisable not to delay any contact with a lawyer in case you lose out on the right to claim.
Does the 3M Settlement Affect My Right to Claim?
No. That claim was between 3M and the U.S. Government and dealt with the False Claims Act and the whistleblower provisions of that act. It is separate from the many claims being filed by individual veterans.
Some Final Thoughts
Our armed forces face very real dangers during their service. We should not expect them to be put more at risk through the use of defective equipment. With almost three million veterans having suffered some form of hearing loss or tinnitus, the question has to be asked; how many of those disabilities were preventable if they had been issued with adequate earplugs.
With a team of highly experienced lawyers, Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can evaluate your case, give you the best advice possible, then represent you in any lawsuit you decide to pursue.
We have already represented many clients in product liability lawsuits and are ready to represent you in any 3M claim. We offer a free initial consultation to evaluate your case and to advise you. Why not book one now on 1-866-MICH-LAW.
We never charge a fee unless we win your case.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.