U.S. military veterans in Idaho and across the country are filing lawsuits against 3M, a Minnesota-based manufacturer, claiming large compensation amounts for hearing loss and tinnitus caused by the company’s defective earplugs. Hearing damage is one of the most common injuries affecting U.S. servicemen and servicewomen. However, it is only recently that the public has begun to learn that the underlying cause for it may be related to earplugs with dangerous design defects that were supplied to and widely used by members of the military for more than a decade.
If you are a veteran who used 3M earplugs for protection from loud noises, either when training with firearms or during combat, you may qualify to bring action against 3M and claim damages for your injuries as well as related financial losses. Litster Frost Injury Lawyers are currently evaluating 3M earplugs hearing damage claims and accepting new cases from Idaho-based veterans related to this controversy. If you think you may qualify, please reach out to us for a free evaluation of your case and legal advice regarding the best course of action available to you. We are ready to hear your story.
Who Can File a Claim?
As it is the case with virtually all personal injury claims, whether you qualify for a lawsuit against 3M will depend on the unique circumstances of your military employment and your injury. Each veteran who feels they have suffered negative outcomes due to the defective earplugs should absolutely have their case reviewed by a qualified attorney. However, if the following statements are true in your case, there’s a high chance you may be able to claim financial compensation for your injuries:
- You are a U.S. military veteran or an active serviceman/servicewoman
- Between 2003 and 2015, you were deployed to active combat zones or, if you were a member of the reserve in that period, you regularly trained with firearms
- You used CAEv2 selective attenuation earplugs manufactured by either Aearo Technologies Inc. or 3M for protection against combat and firearm noises
- You have experienced permanent hearing damage, such as hearing loss or tinnitus, that cannot be attributed to any other underlying medical condition
What Damages Can Idaho Veterans Claim?
In a personal injury claim, the damages are the money awarded as compensation for a loss or injury caused by another party. The exact sum you may be able to obtain in damages will depend on the nature and scope of your injury as well as any financial losses it may have entailed. In the case of a personal injury claim or lawsuit brought against 3M in relation to their defective CAEv2 earplugs, Litster Frost Injury Lawyers will assist affected Idaho veterans in pursuing compensation for the following kinds of losses:
- Medical expenses related to the diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of your hearing damage
- Cost of medical equipmentyou use for your impairment
- Non-economic losses related to the effect your condition may have on the quality of your life such as loss of enjoyment and/or emotional anguish
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is frequently described as the perception of an uncomfortable, often constant noise in the ears when no sound source is present. The noise can vary in pitch and frequency, and be present in either one or both ears. It may be present at all times or appear only from time to time. Tinnitus symptoms can take many forms such as ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing or humming. While as much as 15 to 20 percent of the general population may suffer from some form of tinnitus, it is the number one disability for veterans. Along with hearing loss, tinnitus in veterans is now widely claimed to be caused by defective earplugs manufactured by the 3M company.
Why Did the Military Use Defective Earplugs?
The exact model of earplugs alleged to have caused hearing damage in the members of the U.S. military is 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2). These were originally manufactured by Aearo Technologies Inc., a company that was later acquired by 3M. Between 2003 and 2015, the CAEv2 earplugs were the only hearing protection equipment of this kind supplied to and used by the military.
The earplugs seemed particularly attractive to the U.S. armed forces due to the fact that they were marketed as selective attenuation earplugs. The manufacturer maintained that, thanks to this particular feature, the earplugs would selectively cancel out loud noises servicemen and women could experience during combat – such as the sound of explosions, machine gun
rapid fire, etc. – while simultaneously allowing soldiers to hear normal level sounds such as conversations or military commands. Since a device boasting these particular features could provide soldiers with an advantage on the battlefield, Aearo and later 3M became the exclusive providers of earplugs to the U.S. army between 2003 and 2015.
However, evidence suggests that the CAEv2 earplugs model had design defects that made it effectively impossible for it to meet the U.S. military requirements for adequate hearing protection equipment. For example, it has been revealed that the earplugs’ insufficient length doesn’t allow for proper insertion into the ear canal. As a result, the earplugs could become loose and expose the user to unsafe levels of noise.
What’s even more disturbing is that both the earplugs’ original manufacturer, Aearo, and 3M were allegedly aware of the dangerous design flaws yet not only failed to disclose such information to the U.S. military but, in fact, manipulated test results and made misleading claims about CEAv2 earplugs in order to secure a military-sponsored contract.
How Do We Know 3M May Be At Fault?
The allegations about 3M’s misconduct with regards to faulty combat earplugs were made public in relation to a qui tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit introduced by a company called Moldex on behalf of the U.S. government. Moldex is a California-based and family-owned business that also sells combat earplugs for the military. In the process of developing their own version of the product, Moldex discovered evidence of misconduct on the part of 3M and disclosed incriminating information about CAEv2 dangerous design flaws.
Litigation initiated by Moldex came to an end in July 2018 and resulted in a settlement in which 3M refused to admit to any misconduct but agreed to pay $9.1 million to the military branches to settle the allegations. While this lawsuit was resolved without a trial, veterans suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus are now entitled to file individual claims against 3M alleging that the company knowingly exposed millions of servicemen and servicewomen to injury risk.
Are Idaho Veterans Affected?
According to the statistics, there are more than 118 thousand veterans living in the state of Idaho. More than 14% of them have participated in military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past two decades, many were also deployed into other combat zones including Somalia, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Virtually any veteran who served in the military between 2003 and 2015 may have been unknowingly exposed to hearing damage and injury risk related to the faulty CAEv2 combat earplugs.
Litster Frost Injury Lawyers Are Ready to Represent Idaho Veterans
Litster Frost Injury Lawyers are ready to assist all Idaho veterans who may have been affected by 3M’s irresponsible behavior and suffered hearing damage as a result of the company’s defective earplugs. We are committed to delivering justice and closure to the injured veterans by holding 3M responsible for the damage caused, and by fighting for just and sufficient compensation for their losses.
If you are a veteran who is suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus that may have been caused by the CAEv2 earplugs’ design flaws, contact us without delay. We will provide the legal assistance you need to exercise your legal rights, help you file a claim against 3M and fight for your damages even before the court if that proves to be necessary. Call us or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation.