Defective Earplugs Sold to US Military Results in 3M Lawsuit

In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that 3M Company had agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle a whistleblower False Claims Act that accused 3M of knowingly selling defective earplugs to the military, specifically, 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs.

The whistleblower claim alleged that 3M, through its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, knew that the earplugs were too short to be properly inserted in the user’s ears. Because the earplugs were defectively designed in such a way, they would gradually loosen once inserted, and fail to properly reduce loud noises, risking hearing loss for the user.

After settling the whistleblower claim, 3M now faces personal injury claims brought by members of the military who suffered hearing loss after using 3M’s earplugs, and there could be thousands, as approximately 60% of all military personnel report hearing loss after leaving the military.

In January 2019, retired Army Sergeant Scott Rowe, a Texas resident and combat veteran, filed such a lawsuit in the Western District of Texas, and alleged that 3M’s defectively designed earplugs caused his hearing loss.

Sergeant Rowe was issued, and used, 3M’s earplugs while deployed in Iraq. He now suffers from hearing loss marked by tinnitus (high pitch frequency ringing in the ears), and frequent headaches and dizziness. In his lawsuit, Sergeant Rowe is asking a jury to find that 3M is responsible for his hearing loss. He alleges that they knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military and seeks damages for his medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

If you were a member of the military at any point from 2003 through 2015, and believe you suffered hearing loss, and/or tinnitus as a result of using military issued earplugs, you may have a claim. Our firm is investigating these cases. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to find out if you qualify.