Hundreds of current and former service members are suing the company behind standard-issue earplugs they claim caused them permanent hearing loss, as well as tinnitus and other related injuries.
In federal courts across the country, veterans are beginning to file civil suits against 3M Company, a Minnesota-based manufacturer they claim should be held liable for injuries and damages they suffered as a result of using defective CAEv2 earplugs during their time in service. Experts believe there could be thousands of potential victims, and the potential for the claims to be consolidated in one federal court.
The dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 were recently at the center of a False Claims Act case, in which the Department of Justice alleged 3M sold the federal government earplugs for use by its military. That case, which is a separate matter from the personal injury lawsuits being filed by vets now, was resolved in July 2018 when 3M agreed to pay the DoJ a $9.1 million settlement.
Defective Earplugs Caused Hearing Loss & Tinnitus, Vets Say
Because the $9.1M payout only settled allegations that 3M supplied defective earplugs to the military and submitted false claims for payment by the federal government, victims and families who have suffered as a result of using the must seek justice and compensation for their damages by filing civil lawsuits of their own.
These claims, which invoke laws of personal injury and product liability, focus on allegations that:
- 3M knew, or should have known, that its dual-ended combat earplugs contained serious defects which hampered their effectiveness as ear protection;
- 3M CAEv2 earplugs were designed and manufactured in a manner that made them too short to fit properly within a user’s ear canal, and which made them more likely to become loose without a user’s knowledge;
- Veterans suffered from permanent hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and other physical, emotional, and financial injuries as a result of using 3M earplugs.
The numerous claims and tragic stories they contain speak to the scope of damages suffered by former military members. While every case is unique, many veterans have stepped forward to describe how profoundly their noise-induced hearing loss – which is permanent – and other injuries can impact their lives. That’s because conditions like tinnitus and hearing loss, whether its “mild” hearing loss or moderate, severe, or profound hearing loss, can:
- Affect a person’s ability to hear and engage in conversations;
- Create disruptions for individuals with certain jobs and work-related duties, such as those which require in-person or telephone conversations, the need to answer vocalized questions, or in which safety is based on the ability to hear full instructions or directives, as well as limit employment options;
- Impact a person’s day-to-day life and personal safety, especially when hearing loss affects their ability to hear potential dangers they can’t see;
- Detract from a person’s quality of life by causing various emotional repercussions, such as an inability to communicate and connect with others people and their loved ones, withdrawal from social activities or enjoyable hobbies they once enjoyed, depression, decreased self-reliance, and more;
- Require victims to take certain medications, undergo surgical procedures, obtain costly medical treatment, and /or use assistive hearing devices (hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc.).
Do You Have a 3M Lawsuit?
If you or someone you know believes you may have a potential 3M earplug claim, our Cleveland-based attorneys at Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP are available to review your case, rights, and potential options during a complementary case evaluation. While every case is different, claimants are typically those who:
- Served in the U.S. armed forces between 2003 and 2015;
- Used dual-ended CAEv2 earplugs while serving on active duty in combat areas, when using various equipment and machinery as part of service duties, or during training and firearms exercises; and
- Suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, and / or other physical and emotional injuries or disabilities as a result.
Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP has been named among the Tier 1 “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News in Personal Injury Litigation and Medical Malpractice Law. Our award-winning Civil Trial Lawyers also have experience representing veterans with civilian and service-connected injury claims (including the Iraq War Fund), victims harmed by defective products, and claimants in large class action / multi-district claims.
If you have questions about your rights and a potential 3M earplug lawsuit anywhere in the state of Ohio or the U.S., call (216) 600-0114 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.