640 Veteran-Filed Lawsuits Target 3M for Knowingly Selling Military Defective Earplugs
The plaintiff presented evidence that 3M falsified testing results and marketing materials in order to sell their protective equipment to the U.S. military.
In July of 2018, combat equipment manufacturer 3M, agreed to pay a $9.1 million legal settlement in a case made against their dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2). However, they did so without admitting or accepting liability.
Moldex-Metric, a competitor of 3M, led the whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. government. Over many months of litigation, Moldex-Metric was able to prove that 3M knew the CAEv2 earplugs were too short, rendering them ineffective at defending users from the range of sound claimed by 3M.
Additionally, the plaintiff presented evidence that 3M falsified CAEv2 testing results and marketing materials in order to meet government standards and sell their protective equipment to the U.S. military. Because 3M directly violated the False Claims Act, Moldex-Metric had the evidence they needed to sue 3M and recoup losses for the government.
Although the settlement reimbursed the federal government, none of the award was distributed among the device users. Because of this, hundreds of personal injury lawsuits are now being filed by affected veterans.
Those involved in the lawsuit are seeking legal compensation after sustaining mild to severe symptoms of tinnitus or partial to complete deafness by presenting evidence that the devices were difficult to handle, insert in the ear canal, and prone to falling out. Many of those involved are eager to give their user testimony and tell their stories, especially as it corroborates with the evidence presented by Moldex-Metric.
640 veteran-filed lawsuits have been consolidated for multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the state of Florida. However, this location was a source for some conflict. 3M was quoted accusing the plaintiff’s lawyers of selecting a venue “with a large military presence or in front of a judge with military experience.”
The request for a centralized location is not unheard of, and in this case resulted in the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation assigning a Florida Judge, Casey M. Rodgers, with military experience and a record of MDL successes.
Unfortunately, many of those affected may be unaware that their hearing damage could have been caused by faulty protective equipment. However, considering the long service length of the standard issue earplugs, it is reasonable to predict that the number of lawsuits filed against 3M will continue to increase as awareness of these lawsuits reach the public.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has a number of programs designed to help those with combat injuries and long-term disabilities get the assistance and medical treatment they need. Service members are advised to get annual physical exams, have their hearing tested regularly, report any constant or intermittent hearing loss or pain, and report any new symptoms immediately.
This article was written with the assistance of ConsumerSafety.org