Our nation’s veterans and active military members deserve our respect and appreciation for the tough job they do in protecting our country and our way of life. Unfortunately, veterans and active duty service members have not been treated with the type of respect we would hope when it comes to a brand of earplugs manufactured under the 3M umbrella, which has led to hearing loss and permanent hearing damage due to serious design flaws. If you or a loved one has suffered hearing loss as a result of the use of these earplugs, contact a personal injury attorney from Altman & Altman LLP today.
3M subject to many lawsuits over these common military earplugs
3M is a multinational conglomerate corporation which owns many subsidiary companies that manufacture any different type of medical and pharmaceutical products imaginable. One of these companies, Aearo Technologies, manufactured a type of protective earplug in 2000 that was intended to be useful when worn two different ways – one way would supposedly block out all loud sounds, while the other way would block out most loud sounds but still allow the wearer to hear soft sounds, like the instructions of a fellow soldier or commanding officer.
Aearo Technologies was bought by 3M in 2008, and since 3M won a bid to become the exclusive supplier of protective earplugs to the military between 2003 and 2012, they sought to continue selling these earplugs, which are called “Combat Arms.”
What is now the subject of many lawsuits is the fact that 3M allegedly knew from the moment they purchased the company that the Combat Arms earplugs had a crucial design flaw which essentially rendered them completely useless in a loud combat situation.
3M allegedly knew about this complaint because Aearo Technologies noted the presence design flaw during the earplug’s production in 2000 – when the technician testing the plugs took an extra step when inserting them to prevent the design flaw from affecting their sound blocking capabilities – a step that would not be immediately apparent to anybody unless they were made aware of it beforehand. There is good reason to suspect 3M would know about this flaw, because the technician that worked for Aearo Technologies was brought on board to work for 3M after they were acquired.
Lawsuits allege that both Aearo, and 3M after they acquired Aearo, knowingly misled the U.S. government and the thousands of U.S. military service members who relied on the faulty earplugs, which resulted in many cases of temporary and even permanent hearing damage.
These earplugs caused real damage, and Altman & Altman LLP can help
Research from complainants show that during the time interval in which 3M and Aearo was supplying Combat Arms earplugs to the military, cases of hearing loss and tinnitus in combat veterans spiked to a significant degree. This is simply unconscionable that a company trusted with the care of military service members could fail to protect one of their most crucial senses, despite having good reason to suspect there was a flaw in the design of one of their most highly sold products.
Selling defective products which are known to have a design flaw that renders them ineffective in their original purpose is unethical and it is also against the law. There is good evidence to suggest that 3M should have recognized the design flaw in these earplugs and accounted for that, but instead they chose to continue selling the earplugs to continue making a profit, allegedly at the expense of our brave men and women in uniform.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 50 years of experience making sure that negligent companies are held responsible for defective products that cause harm to those who rely on those products. Ear protection for combat veterans cannot be taken for granted, and these health effects can have lasting, or even permanent effects that cost a lot of money to treat, or take a toll on the victim’s mental health.
If you or a loved one suffered hearing loss as a result of using 3M earplugs while serving in the military, contact us online or call for a free consultation to go over the details of your case today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.