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640 Veteran-Filed Lawsuits Target 3M for Knowingly Selling Military Defective Earplugs

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Packer performs operative care and inspection on U.S. Army Specialist James Tillery at Wilford Hall Medical Center's Hearing Center of Excellence March 2, 2011, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Working to further the medical science, Dr. Packer is the director of the several Department of Defense-directed Centers of Excellence and is an Otolaryngologist. Specialist Tillery was injured by an improvised explosive device during a tour in Afghanistan. He is being treated for tympano-mastoidectomy with ossicular reconstruction at Wilford Hall and is currently stationed at Fort Polk, LA. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)

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.

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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.

Your local VA can help you with appointment scheduling, financial assistance, and even specialist referrals through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP). 


This article was written with the assistance of ConsumerSafety.org

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Lauren von Bernuth

Lauren is one of the co-founders of Citizen Truth. She graduated with a degree in Political Economy from Tulane University. She spent the following years backpacking around the world and starting a green business in the health and wellness industry. She found her way back to politics and discovered a passion for journalism dedicated to finding the truth.

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5 Comments

  1. Moseh Lewi April 16, 2019

    Hi. How do I go about choosing the right law firm to go with? I originally saw this on a tv ad by Goldman Brothers. Should I go with them or someone else?

    Reply
  2. Lauren von Bernuth April 16, 2019

    Hi Moseh! I would contact consumersafety.org as they are the ones that turned us onto this news and are following the issue. If you email them or contact them through their website they might be able to suggest a good law firm.

    Reply
  3. April Wills May 9, 2019

    Hey Moseh, I don’t know but consumersafety seems to be some marketing organization. I feel more comfortable going directly to the specific attorneys website. Especially ones that have worked with veterans on other cases. A few quick google searches came up with a number of firms, like Goldman Brothers and another is Kishish Law.

    https://www.kishishlaw.com/military-earplug-hearing-loss-lawsuit

    Reply
    1. Ronald Talbert June 27, 2019

      Has anyone won a suit so far?

  4. Josh August 9, 2019

    One attorney recoups 40% of what each service member is awarded for their pain and suffering. This should be against the law.

    Reply

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