For many years, the U.S. military supplied troops with 3M Combat Arms double-ended earplugs to protect their hearing. Unfortunately, those 3M earplugs may not properly seal in some users, leaving them vulnerable to hearing loss and other damage. Boston Product Liability Attorney Michael O. Smith is experienced in handling product liability cases. Mr. Smith and all of the attorneys at Mass Injury Group can assist you if you have suffered hearing loss after using Combat Arms earplugs.
In May 2016, Moldex-Metric, Inc., a competitor of 3M, filed a qui tam false claims lawsuit against 3M Company alleging 3M made false statements to the government about the Combat Arms earplugs. This lawsuit alleged the earplug’s stem was too short, preventing it from maintaining a seal in some users’ ears. The lawsuit also claimed that Aearo Technologies, the company that originally designed the earplugs, knew of the defects in 2000 but still submitted a bid to sell the earplugs to the military in 2003 and after. 3M later acquired Aearo Technologies and, according to the lawsuit, the employees involved in the development and testing of the earplugs. The lawsuit alleged that Aearo Technologies, and later 3M, knowingly certified to the government that the earplugs met certain standards when they submitted responses to the military’s requests for proposals over the years. The plaintiff also alleged Aearo and 3M manipulated testing procedures and fitting instructions to misrepresent the hearing protection provided by the earplugs. The lawsuit claimed 3M continued selling Combat Arms earplugs to the military until 2015, while knowing of the defects and making false representations to the government.
As a result of this lawsuit, the Department of Justice reached a $9.1 million settlement with 3M to resolve the False Claims Act allegations. The government’s settlement does not, however, resolve the damage that has been done to thousands of service members over the years. 3M did not admit to any liability as part of the settlement and continues to fight the lawsuits brought against it by service members and veterans. The individual service members and veterans who have experienced hearing loss or other damage as a result of the defective ear plugs are left to pursue their own claims against 3M.
Hearing loss can be a serious issue for military personnel who often work in noisy environments. According to the Veterans Administration, hearing problems are the most prevalent disability related to service seen in U.S. Veterans. By the end of 2014, almost 1.3 million veterans received compensation for tinnitus and 933,000 were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss. The service members who used 3M Combat Arms earplugs relied on the equipment provided to them. They thought they were protected, but may have suffered serious hearing damage or loss as a result of the defects in the earplugs.
Manufacturers who knowingly sell defective products should be held accountable for the damage they cause. Current service-members and veterans who have been damaged by Combat Arms earplugs deserve compensation for their injuries. The compensation available to an individual damaged by a defective product depends on the specific facts of his or her case, but may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and other types of damages.
If you are a member of the military or a veteran who experienced hearing loss or damage after using 3M Combat Arms earplugs, an experienced Boston 3M earplug lawsuit attorney can help you seek justice for your injuries. You may be entitled to compensation even if you are receiving military benefits as a result of your injuries. Attorney Michael O. Smith and the team of attorneys at Mass Injury Group provide skilled legal service to individuals injured by defective products throughout the Boston area. Call us at 617-263-0060 to schedule a free consultation or contact us through our online form.
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