March 1, 2019 — Lawsuits have been filed by hundreds of U.S. military veterans who were diagnosed with tinnitus or hearing loss after using 3M Combat Arms Military Earplugs between 2003 and 2015.
One of the most recent lawsuits was filed in Missouri by Jonathan F., a veteran who joined the Army Reserves in 2007 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012. Like millions of other veterans, he used 3M Combat Arms earplugs during his training and service. He was diagnosed with tinnitus — persistent ringing in the ears — in 2014.
Now, 3M is facing hundreds of lawsuits from veterans who claim that the company knew the earplugs were too short to create a tight fit in the ear canals of many users.
Lawyers claim the earplugs are defective because they can loosen imperceptibly and allow dangerous sounds to enter the user’s ear canal, resulting in permanent hearing loss.
These allegations were first made by the Justice Department, which agreed to a $9.1 million settlement with 3M.
Dual-sided Combat Arms earplugs were invented by Aearo Technologies and first supplied to the military in 2003. After Aearo was acquired by 3M, the company continued to supply the earplugs to the military as standard equipment.
Nearly every service member in the U.S. military was issued these earplugs until 2015, when 3M discontinued the earplugs.
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