3M, the makers of everything from Scotch®Tape to Ace®Bandages, have been found to have had knowledge that their line of earplugs sold to the government did not meet minimum thresholds of ear protection. Despite this knowledge, hundreds of thousands of these earplugs were supplied to military personnel between 2003 and 2015[i].
The earplugs were sold as a quality ear protection device for personnel discharging firearms or operating on or near something capable of producing ear-damaging sounds, such as the numerous aircraft onboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport. With a contract worth billions, 3M decided to keep their knowledge of producing a defective product under wraps and failed to warn the government of the inherent danger to military personnel. This failure to warn has opened up 3M to numerous lawsuits[ii]. According to a Department of Justice press release, 3M reached a settlement with the government in 2018 and agreed to pay some $9.1 Million[iii] to resolve the allegations of impropriety.
The Combat ArmsTMEarplugs pictured below that were sold to the government were discontinued in 2015 but several other versions of the Combat ArmsTMEarplugs are still being sold today. Worse, 3M never admitted wrongdoing and therefore never issued a recall for the product; meaning defective 3M Combat Earplugs may still be in use by service members today.
As a result of trusting their equipment, soldiers throughout the armed services have found themselves facing a lifetime of disabilities which can greatly impact their quality of life. Those on the front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as, support units at home and abroad were all issued the earplugs and trained in their use.
From hearing impairments like tinnitus, which causes a maddening, never-ending ringing, to outright hearing loss, our service men and women have unfairly been subjected to these injuries all because a greedy corporation put dollars over safety. Veterans describe tinnitus as torture because they can never again know the peace of silence. "What is quiet? What's peace? I know for me personally, I don't have it. All I hear is ringing if there's no noise around me. If I do not have noise around me, it's maddening. It is torture,[iv]" one veteran said in an interview with CBS News.
Service members stationed at the following installations in Jacksonville between 2003 and 2015 may have been issued defective earplugs during their duty tours:
· NAS Jacksonville
· NAVFAC Southeast
· NS Mayport
· MCLB Blount Island
· Florida Air National Guard, 125thFighter Wing
I'm a Service Member Who Used 3M Earplugs & I Have Hearing Loss/Tinnitus, What Now?
3M needs to be held accountable for so wantonly causing harm to come to our brave men and women in uniform. If you or someone you love was injured as a result of using the 3M Combat Earplugs, Farah & Farah has mobilized a dedicated team of experienced personal injury attorneys and support staff that are ready now to help you begin the process of receiving the compensation you deserve. From lost wages to medical costs, to the pain and suffering they've caused, we'll ensure you recover what you're entitled to. Call, click, or come in today. We have offices throughout Florida and South Georgia.
[i]Military Times, "Hundreds of Vets Are Suing Over Defective Combat Earplugs" https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/02/14/hundreds-of-vets-are-suing-over-these-defective-combat-earplugs/
[ii]Military Times, "Hundreds of Vets Are Suing Over Defective Combat Earplugs" https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/02/14/hundreds-of-vets-are-suing-over-these-defective-combat-earplugs/
[iii]United States Department of Justice, "3M Company Agrees to Pay $9.1 Million to Resolve Allegations That it Supplied the United States With Defective Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs" https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/3m-company-agrees-pay-91-million-resolve-allegations-it-supplied-united-states-defective-dual
[iv]CBS News, "Veterans claim defective 3M earplugs caused hearing loss, ringing in ears: "It is torture"" https://www.cbsnews.com/news/military-veterans-claim-defective-3m-earplugs-caused-hearing-loss/