History of 3M® Earplug Lawsuit

Many military members were harmed by defective combat earplugs from 3M®, leading to a massive cash settlement by the company.

Many military members were harmed by defective combat earplugs from 3M® back in 2018. A whistleblower exposed the 3M® defective earplugs in the military that caused a massive cash settlement of $3.1 million to veterans affected with hearing loss. 

when did the military stop using 3M® earplugs?

While the class action lawsuit did not come to fruition until 2017, the military stopped using 3M® earplugs altogether in 2015. From 2003 to 2015, they were the main combat earplugs that soldiers would use to block out loud gunshot noises during warfare. 

Aearo Technologies Inc issued the earplugs from 2003 to 2008 before 3M® bought that company out that year to finish out earplug distribution over the next seven years afterward. The defectiveness of the earplugs caused the class action lawsuit from 2017 to 2018. 

About 37.5 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Half of the hearing loss population are aged 75 and older. Tinnitus is the most common hearing loss condition in veterans, which causes a continuous ringing sound in the ears. 

While conductive hearing loss can be reversed by surgery or taking certain medications, costs can be steep to restore hearing back to normal. Veterans claiming could receive anywhere between $50,000 to $400,000 depending on the severity of their hearing loss. 

If the veteran experienced permanent and irreversible hearing loss, they received the highest compensation. If only partial hearing loss was reversible with medication or surgery, they received a lower amount. However, it was enough to cover damages. 

how were the 3M® earplugs defective?

The 3M® defective combat earplugs did not protect the military members’ hearing as promised, continuing to sell them to military branches without notifying the government of the defects. The green part of the earplugs was supposed to block all sounds like a regular earplug would while the yellow part continued to let sound into the ear.  

Overall, the earplugs’ design did not stay in the wearer’s ear as it should have. As they loosened from the wearer’s ears, then they were exposed to the many loud noises during warfare and combat. A short earplug stem made it difficult to insert and position them at the opening of the ears. 

Besides filing the claim with 3M®, veterans were able to claim disability compensation from the VA. About 1.16 million veterans claimed disability compensation as of 2017 because they suffered permanent hearing damage from defective earplugs. 

Another 1.79 million people received disability compensation for tinnitus issues as of 2017. Most of the people that claimed disability served during the wars in Afghanistan and Iran at the turn of the 21st century. 

which branches were affected?

Many branches of the military, unfortunately, endured the brunt of these defective combat earplugs from 3M®. Thousands of soldiers in the Navy, Army, Marines, and Air Force were given these earplugs to protect themselves from hearing loss. 

However, the defects in their design were so insurmountable that they affected more than a million servicemen and women that served in various branches primarily in the early 2000s. Rather than perfect the defects and withdraw from distributing them to the military, 3M® decided to continue the partnership with the government entity even at the unfortunate expense of fellow Americans. 

what you need to know about the 3M® earplug lawsuits

If you served in any branch of the military and used the defective combat earplugs from 3M®, you may be eligible to file a claim with the company and with the VA for disability compensation.

3M® settled for a $3.1 million cash settlement while the VA continues to distribute funds for any veteran that inputs a claim for the class action lawsuit.

Of the cases brought forth, 3M® lost to 12 service men and women that claimed hearing loss because of their defective earplugs. However, 3M® won another six cases of hearing loss claims from military members. 

what can i do if i think i was a victim? 

The 3M® earplug lawsuit is ongoing as more cases are heard. Justice will be served. Start on your path to justice by filing a claim today.

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