3M Military Earplugs Lawsuit
Texas Product Liability Attorneys Ready to Fight for You
Government contractor and manufacturer, 3M, has recently come under heavy scrutiny as a result of settling with the U.S. military over claims that they sold defective combat earplugs. Unfortunately, the damage has been done, and service members who were deployed in active war zones between 2003 through 2015 are now suffering from tinnitus and other forms of hearing loss as a result of these faulty earplugs.
While the company is set to pay $9.1 million to the U.S. military, they have yet to admit to any wrongdoing and have not accepted liability for the pain and suffering they have caused to our honorable military men and women.
As a member of the armed forces, you sacrificed in your fight for freedom. Now you deserve somebody to fight for you.
If you were a service member in an active war zone between 2003 to 2015, and have suffered severe hearing loss as a result of defective 3M combat earplugs, then contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today for a FREE, no obligation consultation.
3M Military Earplug Defects
Two versions of the earplugs were created, with the dual-ended version being sold to the U.S. government for its military personnel. The Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Versions 2, were designed to offer two levels of noise protection depending on how they were worn. These “selective attenuation earplugs” could be inserted in one manner to hear speech and reversed if the soldier needed greater noise protection.
However, the stems of the earplugs were too short and did not properly hold deep enough into the ear. Over time, the earplugs would loosen in the wearer’s ear without their awareness. This allowed for dangerous levels of sound and noise to enter the ear canal by traveling around the outside of the earplug. This has resulted in an uptick of veterans suffering hearing loss and tinnitus.
It’s estimated that over 1.5 million soldiers could be affected as a result of these defective military earplugs.
What makes the situation even worse is that the original manufacturers, Aearo Technologies – which was acquired by 3M in 2008 – knew as early as 2000 about the defect.
You deserve justice for your pain and suffering. We will not allow this corporation to take advantage of you, especially when you have given so much to this country. Let Hotze Runkle PLLC help you secure compensation for medical expenses and other damages suffered as a result of your injury.
U.S. Government $9.1 Million Lawsuit
In the summer of 2018, the Department of Justice announced that 3M would be responsible for paying $9.1 million as a result of selling their defective military earplugs. The lawsuit brought against 3M was actually started by Moldex-Metric, Inc., a 3M competitor. In an attempt to develop their own earplugs, Moldex realized that 3M had provided false data, manipulated test results, and had provided incomplete instructions for usage. The company was able to file under the Qui Tam False Claims Act.
It was discovered that 3M could not create earplugs that would block noise at 22 decibels. In order to get their Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, to perform at this level, they folded back a portion of the earplug to accomplish the goal. This information, however, was not provided to the military or military personnel using the product.
Even when soldiers used the combat earplugs as instructed, the seal to protect the eardrums would loosen. Both ends of the earplugs experienced the same defect.
How Soldiers Have Been Affected
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted that veterans are “30% more likely to have Severe Hearing Impairment (SHI) than nonveterans.” Additionally, veterans who served in the United States or overseas after 2001 were four times more likely than nonveterans to have an SHI.
These severe hearing impairment issues tend to occur because of noise from:
- Heavy equipment
- Jet engines
- Roadside bombs
- Battlefield experiences
The following symptoms are signs that you may be dealing with hearing loss:
- Muffled speech
- Constant ringings, buzzing, or low hissing in the ears
- Difficulty hearing specific words over background noise
- Difficult hearing consonants
- Sensitivity to sound
Alongside substantial hearing loss, which is one of the most prevalent health issues for military members, many veterans and troops are now dealing with tinnitus.
- Tinnitus: This hearing impairment generally causes bothersome sounds in the victim’s ears that can vary in volume and duration. Sufferers tend to hear continuous ringing, hissing, clicking, roaring, buzzing, or whistling in the ears. Tinnitus can occur as the result of a single exposure to an intense sound (i.e. bomb explosion) or repeated exposure to sounds such as gunfire or aircraft engines. There are currently no established forms of treatment or cure for patients with tinnitus.
Studies have shown that individuals suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus exhibit anxiety and depression as a result of their loss of quality of life. Anxiety and depression are also tied with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ultimately, our veterans and active military personnel deserve much more care, attention, and intervention.
Some of the warzones in which soldiers were provided 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, include:
- Yemeni Civil War
- Syrian Crisis Intervention
- Libyan Crisis Intervention
- War in Somalia
- War in Afghanistan
- The Iraq War
- War on Terror Operations
You do not have to face your suffering alone. Let the experienced and dedicated team of Hotze Runkle PLLC help you secure the compensation you need to begin the healing process.
The Basics of Product Liability
Product liability is an area of law that governs who is liable when a defective product injures, harms, or causes fatalities. If you have suffered injuries as a result of 3M combat earplugs, you can file a product liability claim to seek compensation from the product’s manufacturer, distributor, or seller.
There are three defects or factors that can fall under product liability, including:
- Design defects: When a product is defective because of its design, and not as a result of issues with its manufacturing, it is a design defect.
- Manufacturing defects: A manufacturing defect occurs during the manufacturing process and can make a product more dangerous than it should be.
- Failure to warn: Even if the product is designed and manufactured as it was supposed to be, it can still be defective. In these instances, the manufacturer does not provide the user with enough information on how to use the product safely or blatantly misstates that product’s benefits. 3M failed to warn the government and military personnel about issues with the combat earplugs.
Various parties in the product’s chain of distribution may be held responsible for the defective nature of the product, including:
- The manufacturer of the product
- A manufacturer who develops certain components of the product
- The party that assembles or installs the product in question
As in any field of law, evidence is going to be essential to proving your claim. When it comes to a product liability lawsuit, you’ll want to obtain and secure the following:
- Medical Records – Medical records will show that you were, in fact, treated for hearing loss-related injuries. These records will also highlight information regarding what long-term effects you may suffer from and what treatments you may have to undergo in the future.
- Medical Bills – Medical bills will show how much damages you have had to pay out-of-pocket as a result of your injury.
- Pay Stubs and Tax Returns – These are other forms of financial evidence that show your economic losses. Your injuries may have prevented you from working and these documents can prove this.
- Insurance Policy – You should provide your lawyer with documentation on any type of insurance you may have. This is essential to making sure that all of your medical bills get paid.
- Other Important Documents – Because every case is different, your Hotze Runkle PLLC lawyer will be able to give you more thorough details on any other documents you may need pertaining to your specific case.
How Hotze Runkle PLLC Can Help
The product liability lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC don’t demand your trust, we work hard to earn it. In order to seek compensation for any injuries suffered as a result of using 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs, you must qualify by:
- Having served in the U.S. military between 2003 through 2015
- Having used military issued 3M combat earplugs during your time in service
- Have medically documented hearing loss or tinnitus
- Are not suffering from some other syndrome, disease, or illness that is causing your hearing loss
The national litigation lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC are ready to fight and get you full compensation for the damages you have suffered, including recovery for:
- Economic Damages. This refers to the amount of money spent or lost as a result of the product’s damages to you. This can include medical bills, lost income, and more.
- Non-Economic Damages: This refers to any physical, mental, or emotional damages suffered by the victim and caused by the liable party. There is no cap for non-economic damages in Texas. However, this kind of compensation can be hard to calculate due to its subjective nature. The jury defines the amount.
- Punitive Damages: This type of compensation is only awarded if it is possible to prove malice, fraud, or gross negligence. This would be an additional economic punishment to the company or manufacturer due to their reckless behavior. It is only awarded if the previous two are awarded as well. Punitive damages are capped at the greater of $200,000, or twice the economic damages, plus non-economic damages up to $750,000.
Hotze Runkle PLLC has the skills, experience, and determination to bring 3M to justice. We are not afraid to take corporations like them to court and defend your rights.