3M settles lawsuit with the Government for Defective Earplugs: What should I as a Veteran do?
- Did you serve in Iraq from 2003 to 2015?
- In any branch of the military (including Reserves and National Guard)?
- Have you suffered hearing loss or “ringing ear”?
- Is your service documented in your DD-214?
- Is your hearing loss documented in your medical records?
- Login to eBenefits.va.gov for access to your medical records.
- Taking part in the 3m earplug litigation will not affect your disability benefits…
Sometime prior to July of 2018 the Justice Department brought a lawsuit against the manufacturing giant 3M for fraudulently selling the military defective earplugs known as the Combat Arms earplugs. The lawsuit resulted in a $9.1 million-dollar settlement.
Following the settlement, the Justice Department issued a press release describing the facts of the lawsuit which it had filed against 3M and another company which had also sold the allegedly defective Combat Arms earplugs to the government between 2003 and 2015. The lawsuit alleged that 3M, and the other company, Aearo Technologies, knew the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into users’ ears and that the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefore did not perform well for certain individuals. The United States further alleged that 3M and Aearo Technologies did not disclose this design defect to the military.
The allegations resolved by the settlement were brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or “whistleblower”, provisions of the federal False Claims Act. The act permits private parties “whistleblowers” to sue on behalf of the government when they believe that defendants submitted false claims for government funds. The press release also said that, as part of the settlement, the whistleblower received $1,911,000. According to the press release, the settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, the Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/3m-company-agrees-pay-91-million-resolve-allegations-it-supplied-united-states-defective-dual
Following the qui tam (False Claims) settlement, 3M is facing a growing rash of individual lawsuits arising out of its sale of defective earplugs to the military. Since the settlement in 2018 a growing number of individual lawsuits have been brought against 3M and Aearo Technologies in various Federal District courts. These suits seek damages for injuries sustained by individuals who experienced hearing loss, and tinnitus. Tinnitus is the hearing of sound when no external sound is present. According to Wikipedia, while tinnitus is often described as a ringing, it may also sound like a clicking, hiss or roaring. Rarely, unclear voices or music are heard. The sound may be soft or loud, low pitched or high pitched and appear to be coming from one ear or both. Most of the time, it comes on gradually. In some people, the sound causes depression or anxiety and can interfere with concentration. https://.org/wiki/Tinnitus.tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinnitus
Efforts to consolidate all the individual lawsuits
Recently a Minnesota law firm which represents a plaintiff in the Federal District Court for Minnesota has brought a motion to consolidate all the 3M cases in the Minnesota District Court because that is where 3M’s headquarters are located. https://www.aboutlawsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2019-01-25-Motion.pdf.
An article published in the Waco Tribune-Herald on February 18, 2019 described a “flood” of lawsuits being filed by veterans in the Waco Federal Court for the Western District of Texas. The most recent suit at that time was filed on behalf of Joshua K. Smith. Smith was an Army sergeant from Marlin, Texas who served from 2007 to 2015, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the article, Smith is seeking damages for significant hearing loss and other medical issues related to his military service while wearing Combat Arms earplugs provided by 3M. https://www.wacotrib.com/news/courts_and_trials/veterans-flood-waco-federal-court-with-lawsuits-over-m-earplugs/article_4e7276be-8a92-5611-8ffb-ecc85ead9033.html#
What should I do if I suffered hearing loss after using 3M Combat Arms ear plugs?
If you used Combat Arms earplugs and have suffered from hearing loss or tinnitus, you should contact Irvin Law to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. This compensation is in addition to VA benefits you may have already received. You may be entitled to reimbursement for medical bills and you may be able to recover for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life which you have experienced.
Contact Irvin Law, PLLC for a free case evaluation at 866-588-2284.