Service members have an expectation that they will be provided with proper gear during training and combat, and they are owed this right. Indeed, service members are asked to be responsible for the protection of our country and other service members’ lives; when they are left without the proper gear, the slight is both dangerous and offensive.
Unfortunately, some combat veterans who served between 2003 and 2015 in Iraq and Afghanistan were not provided with the proper protections to which they were entitled. To be sure, many service members have suffered hearing loss as a direct result of the use of defective earplugs. The earplugs–3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2–and their manufacturer, 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., have been named in multiple lawsuits as a result of the defect and resulting damages.
If you are a former service member who used defective 3M earplugs and suffered hearing loss as a result of loud noises in training and combat, you may be entitled to damages. Our experienced lawyers at the office of Cravens and Noll are here to represent you and advocate for your right to compensation.
3M Earplug Litigation – The Defect Explained
According to reports, including the details of a suit that resulted in a settlement of $9.1 million between the U.S. government and 3M/Aearo Technologies, Inc., the 3M earplugs were too short to properly fit within the ear in a secure position. As a result of this defect, the earplugs had the potential to gradually loosen, undermining their noise-canceling capabilities and exposing military members to dangerously loud sounds. The suit brought forth by the government alleged that the earplug company was aware of this defect at the time the earplugs were distributed, yet the defect was not disclosed to the government at the time the contract for purchase of the earplugs was finalized. As such, this particular suit was brought under the False Claims Act, which allows plaintiffs to bring forth a claim if there is evidence that a defendant submitted a false claim to the government in exchange for government funds.
Who Used Defective 3M Earplugs?
According to reports, those deployed in the following conflicts were issued the defective 3M earplugs:
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq and Syria)
Symptoms of Hearing Loss – Have You Been Affected?
If you were deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq between the years of 2003 and 2015 and you are suffering any of the symptoms of hearing loss, you may be a victim of the 3M earplugs defect. Symptoms of excessively-loud and dangerous noise exposure and subsequent noise-induced hearing loss include:
- Sounds become muffled or distorted over time;
- Difficulting understanding people when they talk;
- Hearing loss that requires the use of a hearing aid; and
- Tinnitus – ringing and buzzing in the ears.
The loss of hearing can have a significant effect on your quality of life, impeding your ability to hear, your sense of community, and even your ability to participate in everyday activities, ranging from watching TV to attending social outings. Hearing loss can affect the quality of your relationships, and can be frustrating and embarrassing to cope with.
You Deserve to Be Compensated for Your Losses
As stated above, in 2018, the U.S. government reached a settlement with the defective earplug manufacturer for $9.1 million; the lawsuit alleged that the earplugs were defective, that the defect led to hearing loss and tinnitus in those who used the earplugs, and that the manufacturer knew of the defect at the time that it entered into a contract with the U.S. government.
While the $9.1 million settlement is certainly a positive outcome for the government and service members, the settlement only accounted for the financial losses of the government, specifically, the Defense Logistics Agency. Losses to military service members themselves have yet to be addressed; the settlement did not cover any losses suffered by individuals. As such, those military members who have been affected by the defective earplugs must pursue a lawsuit privately.
Our lawyers believe that you deserve to be compensated in full for your losses. We will help you to seek damages for the full extent of your economic and noneconomic losses, including medical expenses, hearing aids, suffering, and diminished quality of life.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
Bringing a successful claim against 3M requires an adherence to detail and an understanding of the different elements of an effective case. Our lawyers will help you to prove:
- Timing – that you were deployed during the time frames listed above and were issued a pair of 3M earplugs;
- Defect – we will work aggressively to reiterate the fact that a defect in the earplugs existed and that 3M was aware of this defect;
- Causation – it’s important to establish that you did not suffer any hearing loss or tinnitus before being issued a pair of the 3M earplugs, and that the use of the earplugs in conjunction with excessive sound exposure was the proximate cause of hearing loss and tinnitus; and
- Damages – our lawyers, as well as various experts whom we hire, will work hard to prove the extent of damages you’ve suffered as a result of the use of 3M earplugs and calculate the monetary value of these damages.
Reach Out to Us Today to Get Started
Our lawyers serve military members throughout Virginia. As a former U.S. Army Judge Advocate and a veteran of multiple military operations, including Operation Just Cause and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Managing Partner and Attorney Joe Cravens has a unique understanding of what you have experienced, and can truly empathize with your situation. All of the professionals who make up our team are highly skilled and passionate, and together, we have decades worth of combined legal experience.
We believe that you deserve the best legal representation available, and just compensation for the damages you have suffered. If you believe that you have suffered hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of using defective 3M earplugs while deployed, please call our lawyers today for an initial consultation and more information about your legal options.
Cravens and Noll, an experienced Virginia law firm, takes great pride in the trust our clients place in our counsel. In a time of crisis, experienced trial attorneys can provide the solutions needed, at a reasonable price. Providing quality legal representation, our law firm will develop a comprehensive strategy based on your unique financial situation. Before taking a case, Cravens and Noll lawyers provide free consultations for clients, we will never give you false expectations about the potential outcome of your case. You can count on a realistic assessment of your case, in order for you to make a sound decision.