Defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs

From 2003 until 2015, 3M Company sold and distributed millions of pairs of Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), to the U.S. military. The 3M earplugs were used by U.S. service members, including combat veterans who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million dollars to settle allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the Department of Defense for use by U.S. servicemembers.

What is a 3M Combat Earplug?

3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were originally manufactured by 3M’s predecessor, Aero Technologies. The earplugs were designed and marketed by 3M as being dual-purpose. They had a yellow end, and a olive green/black end. One end was designed to block all sounds including gunfire and explosions The other end was intended to block some sound, while allowing soldiers to hear commands and communicate with each other on the battlefield. 3M won the exclusive contract to sell these earplugs to the U. S. government from 2003 until 2015, when they were discontinued.

A Whistleblower Lawsuit Alerted DOJ to the Defective 3M Combat Earplugs

A rival earplug manufacturer filed a False Claims Act suit against 3M in 2016 in which the whistleblower alleged that Aero’s testing showed that the earplugs only reduced noise by less than half the rating required by the military and advertised by 3M. The DOJ intervened in the whistleblower’s suit, alleging defect on slightly different grounds. The DOJ claimed the earplugs were too short and couldn’t be properly inserted into the user’s ears. 3M was allegedly aware that the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into soldier’s ears causing them to gradually and imperceptibly loosen putting servicemembers at risk for hearing loss.

DOJ Settled the Whistleblower Lawsuit

The 3M settlement with the U.S. government was for $9.1 million dollars. The settlement was announced on July 26, 2018.

What Injuries May Be Caused by 3M Combat Arms Earplugs?

Hearing loss and tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing in the ears, were the two most common service-related disabilities as reported by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) in 2017. Service members exposed to dangerous levels of sound while in combat and as part of military service can incur hearing loss if not properly protected.

What Can You Do?

If you have hearing loss, tinnitus or other health problems you believe are connected to 3M Combat Earplugs, you should contact your health provider for medical care. Current and former military servicemembers who served at any time from 2003 to 2015 may be entitled to compensation from 3M for related hearing loss or tinnitus. Please call our toll free number at 888-491-9726 for a free consultation with one of our 3M Combat Earplugs lawyers. Or tell us your story using  this contact form  to discuss your potential legal options with an experienced products liability attorney.

We are not bringing claims against the U.S. military or the U.S. government. The claims will be brought against 3M Company, a private corporation that sold the defective earplugs.