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3M COMBAT ARMS EARPLUGS: A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT

Between 2003 and 2015, the U.S. military purchased millions of 3M Dual-End or Reversible Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2 for short). These earplugs were commonly used by soldiers on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and other active combat sites around the world. A design defect, though, caused the plugs to loosen, something that went undetected by wearers. Untold numbers of veterans were exposed to this defect. Many suffered permanent hearing loss or debilitating tinnitus. Worse, 3M and a predecessor company, Aearo, knew about this defect and hid it from public knowledge for years, even while they were a near-exclusive supplier of such earplugs.

Are you a veteran of the U.S. military? Did you regularly wear combat earplugs during active duty? Do you suffer from severe, crippling hearing loss on tinnitus? If so, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your injury.

There is existing mass tort litigation related to these serious injuries caused by 3M’s combat “dual-ended” earplugs. And KR Law is a mass tort law firm.

In Re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation is an active multidistrict litigation centralized in the Northern District of Florida. You may be eligible to join this MDL as one of scores of plaintiffs nationwide.

The attorneys at KR Law have a long, prolific history of winning mass torts for our clients. We especially have decades of experience navigating and managing product liability MDLs, which can be complex and challenging.

Our attorneys can help you:

  • Counter the deep pockets of 3M, ranked #103 in the most recent Fortune 500
  • See your products liability case through to completion
  • Maximize the damages you receive to compensate you for your injury, loss of income, pain and suffering and other inexcusable consequences

What are “dual-ended” combat earplugs?

“Dual-ended” earplugs are also known as “selective attenuation” earplugs. These specialized plugs are designed, in theory, to offer two levels of protection for their users. Insert the green plug end firmly into the ear canal, and it blocks noise like a traditional plug. Insert the yellow plug end firmly into the ear canal, and it blocks out only the most high-risk sounds, such as explosions, while allowing the user to hear softer noise like the speaking voices of fellow soldiers—or approaching enemy combatants.

This dual use made the CAEv2 plugs particularly attractive. A supplier relationship with the military was first formed in 2003 and lasted until the product was discontinued in 2015.

What was the defect that caused the hearing loss?

The design defect at issue came to light in a federal whistleblower suit filed in 2016. This suit alleged that the defect in question caused the CAEv2 plug to be too short for effective use. Because of this, the “non-inserted” end of the plug partially rubbed against the ear canal as the plug was placed in the ear by the user, causing it to peel back partially. The seal provided by the inserted end then loosened, so subtly that allegedly even trained audiologists could not detect the issue, according to the whistleblower suit’s claims.

This suit additionally alleged that Aearo, the original manufacturer purchased subsequently by 3M, discovered the defect during lab testing. The company then essentially fudged the numbers needed to satisfy certification and otherwise compete for and win the contract with the military.

Ultimately, 3M agreed to pay the government a double take-inducing $9.1 million in 2018 to settle the suit. The company stopped short of admitting the damning allegations.

Mass tort litigation is how your individual serious injury comes into play.

The settlement of the federal whistleblower suit, however, only addressed violations of conspiracy, presentation of false claims, false statements under the federal False Claims Act, and a separate unjust enrichment claim. This focused on the beef between 3M and the government.

Plainly, the settlement did not specifically address the physical, mental and emotional anguish suffered by you, the dedicated, brave serviceman and veteran of foreign wars. You wore those earplugs. You lost that essential, unimpeded ability to hear. Some studies have showed that perhaps more than half of all veterans suffer from hearing loss.

You are who KR Law is fighting for now.

Our award-winning mass tort lawyers are experts in getting compensation for victims injured by defective products such as 3M Dual-End or Reversible Combat Arms Earplugs. Contact us for a free case evaluation and to find out what your case is worth.

Kristian Rasmussen
Kristian Rasmussen
Kristian Rasmussen has been appointed by United States District Judge Inga Johnson as a lead attorney serving on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee for MDL No. 2092, In Re Chantix (varenicline) Products Liability Litigation. Mr. Rasmussen’s prior litigation experience includes being designated as Co-Lead Trial Counsel for MDL No. 1632, In re High Sulfur Content Gasoline Products Liability Litigation and being appointed by United States District Judge Charles Bryer to serve as a lead attorney on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee as co-chair of the discovery committee for MDL No. 1699, In Re Bextra and Celebrex Unfair Sales Practices and Product Liability Litigation. Additionally, before entering into private practice, Mr. Rasmussen prosecuted cases as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Florida and served the United States Navy as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Mr. Rasmussen has been awarded multiple verdicts and settlements in excess of One Million Dollars.

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