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The brave members of the United States military have to face a large number of potentially harmful situations. One thing our proud members of the United States military should never have to worry about are concerns for the safety and the performance of combat earplugs.
Unfortunately, the team of product liability attorneys at Lloyd & Hogan are currently investigating how much 3M knew about selling defective earplugs to the United States military between 2003 and 2015.

Widespread Hearing Loss a Problem for U.S. Troops

According to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) report released in 2003, auditory system injuries that include tinnitus and full hearing loss represented the third most common type of combat-related injury. Fast forward 14 years to 2017, and auditory system injuries became most cited combat related injury for United States military personnel. Although high volume levels are common in battle zones, an alarming number of U.S. military veterans have reported hearing issues despite using the combat earplugs designed and manufactured by 3M.

The Mechanics of the 3M Combat Earplug

How the 3M combat earplug is supposed to work and how the earplug actually works appears to be two distinct things. The dual-ended earplug captures audio as it enters at the opening located in the middle of the earplug. Sound then travels down a channel on the yellow end of the 3M combat earplug into a specially designed audio filter. The audio filer allows low level sounds to travel without much interruption. However, the combat earplug is supposed to restrict high level sounds. 3M has claimed the combat earplug is capable of limiting the powerful sounds caused by strong explosive impulses.
Recent Lawsuits Put 3M in the Legal Spotlight

During 2018, 3M agreed to settle several lawsuits that claimed the manufacturer knew about the defects found in the Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) . However, despite their knowledge of these defects, 3M went ahead with sales of the faulty earplugs to the United States Department of Defense (DOD). The standard- issued earplugs were used by thousands of active military personnel both domestically and abroad. 3M promoted the earplugs as dual-purpose earplugs, which means the combat earplugs allow audio like speech to be heard, while preventing ear damage caused by extremely loud explosions. The prime reason for the faulty earplugs centered on the short design that made it impossible for soldiers to insert the earplugs properly into the ears.

Where Do We Go from Here?

The settlement of several claims by 3M does not mean the legal book has been closed on the faulty combat earplugs. Fourteen years is a long time and thousands of additional United States military personnel might have suffered from partial or permanent hearing loss caused by excruciatingly loud gunfire and explosions. The pain and suffering caused by the faulty earplugs include diminished career options and mounting medical bills.
If you or someone you know were on active duty between 2003 and 2015, as well as have been properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional for tinnitus or hearing loss, you might have a strong enough case to file a claim against 3M. Please schedule a free initial consultation with a Lloyd & Hogan personal injury attorney by calling our office at (205) 969-6235 or by submitting the convenient online form found on our website.