Did you serve in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015 and used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2)? Are you experiencing or have been diagnosed with hearing loss? You may have a potential product liability claim against the earplug manufacturers. The Pennsylvania product liability lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli are prepared to listen to your story and fight for your rights.
The Use of Dual-Ended Earplugs in the Military
Between 2003 and 2015, the United States had provided 3M Combat Arms dual-ended earplugs to soldiers. Designed and supplied by Aearo Technologies, then later 3M Company, these earplugs had a dual purpose:
- The closed end was to protect soldiers’ hearing by blocking all sounds, such as dangerous impulse noises.
- The open end would allow soldiers to block loud impulse sounds while still hearing spoken words.
The earplugs, which could be distinguished by the double cone-like ends that were olive green and yellow, are too short to be properly inserted into the ear canal. Since the earplugs did not correctly fit in some wearer’s ears, the earplugs loosened and allowed dangerous sounds to breach the ear canal, increasing the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus (a ringing in the ears).
Whistleblower/Qui Tam Lawsuit Against 3M
In May 2016, a False Claims Act claim was filed against 3M, alleging the company knew the earplugs had a design defect that exposed the U.S. military to dangerous sound levels, causing hearing issues. According to the lawsuit, testing by the company had shown the earplugs had a noise reduction rating of zero. Despite this knowledge, 3M had supplied the U.S. government with the defective earplugs and then requesting payment without disclosing the alleged design defect or any flawed testing it did on the product. As a result of its negligence, U.S. military personnel have been exposed to serious risk of hearing loss.