The 3M Earplug Lawsuit in Houston
At The Cobos Law Firm, we can help you file a 3M earplug lawsuit. Members of the military whose service dates fell between 2003 and 2015 found that they suffered tinnitus as well as hearing loss caused by 3M earplugs. A whistleblower False Claims Act lawsuit claimed that 3M Company knowing sold defective earplugs known as Combat Arms earplugs to the military. In July of 2018, the United States
Department of Justice announced that the company paid $9.1 million in order to settle this lawsuit. The personal injury lawyers at The Cobos Law Firm have extensive experience as Houston mass tort attorneys. Oftentimes, a mass tort results from the negligence of a large that releases a defective product. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, this can lead to widespread damage and personal injury, such as in this 3M earplug lawsuit.
Defective 3M Combat Earplugs
For men and women who serve in the United States military, hearing loss is a common and widespread issue. Back in 2003, the Department of Veterans Affairs stated that hearing loss and tinnitus as well as other auditory system injuries were the third most common type of injury sustained in service.
Unfortunately, occurrences of these auditory system injuries increased so much in the years following that they were two of the leading service-connected disabilities by 2017. As a combat veteran himself, attorney Andrew Cobos understands how unavoidable dangerous levels of sound are in combat zones.
However, by distributing defective earplugs, 3M unnecessarily exposed military personnel to hearing loss and tinnitus. These earplugs became standard issue from 2003 to 2015 and were a common supply for those deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. 3M marketed these combat earplugs as dual-purpose. Wearing them one way allowed speech to be heard while the other end provided protection from damaging sounds.
Despite being the sole provider of earplugs for the U.S. military, the False Claim lawsuit alleged that the company knowing sold combat earplugs with a critical design flaw. Allegedly, these earplugs were too short to properly fit in soldier’s ears. In turn, they would loosen over time and become useless.
3M Earplug Lawsuit: A Brief History
In 2003, Aearo Technologies designed the dual-ended combat arms earplugs version of their product and obtained a military contract. In 2008, 3M bought Aearo Technologies, taking over their exclusive contract. When these companies sold the defective product to the U.S. military, they claimed that with proper insertion the design allowed soldiers to protect themselves against all sound.
- The olive side would provide protection against any sound.
- The yellow end would protect against explosions but allow soldiers to hear speech or approaching enemies.
In 2016, a company that creates hearing protection products as well as respiratory equipment, Moldex-Metric Inc., filed a lawsuit against Aearo and 3M. The lawsuit alleged that 3M committed fraud, claiming that they knowingly sold defective earplugs.
In this lawsuit, Moldex-Metric asserted that the fraud perpetrated against the military by 3M likely caused thousands of soldiers to suffer tinnitus and hearing loss. Additionally, they claimed that the fraudulent product exposed millions to the risk of these auditory injuries.
In 2018, 3M admitted no wrongdoing. However, they agreed to pay a settlement of $9.1 million. You can learn more in this press release from the Department of Justice.
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Injury Claims
Unfortunately, soldiers who thought the defective 3M earplugs would protect them were actually at risk of damage. Common injuries from these defective products include tinnitus, loss of balance, and varying levels of hearing loss.
For the Department of Defense, hearing loss is an incredibly important concern. This is because hearing loss directly impacts medical readiness and operational effectiveness. Moreover, it can lead to a decrease in quality of life.
Hearing tests are routine for service members in each branch of the military. They also keep records of the results of these hearing tests, which can be useful in a 3M earplug lawsuit.
Per the Department of Defense, symptoms of hearing loss related to combat include the following:
- Buzzing or ringing sounds in the ears
- Difficulty understanding what others say
- “Fullness” in the ears when you leave a noisy area – for example, a concert
- Difficulty hearing someone nearby as they talk
When you file a 3M earplug lawsuit as a veteran currently receiving VA disability for hearing loss or tinnitus, you can continue to receive these benefits. Because the government bases their disability compensation on ratings and not income, your personal injury settlement should have no impact on your benefits.
File a 3M Earplug Lawsuit
If you served in the military from 2003-2015, used 3M earplugs, and suffered tinnitus or permanent hearing loss from their design defects, you might be entitled to compensation. This compensation helps cover decreased quality of life, medical care, mental health, and other issues connected to hearing damage.
When you want to file a 3M combat earplugs lawsuit, your first step is to reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the military. At our Houston personal injury law firm, we have extensive experience helping veterans file disability claims.
Remember that you should not fear the loss of VA disability benefits or social security when you want to file a lawsuit against 3M. Contact our personal injury attorneys for a free case evaluation today. At your free consultation, you can see what sets The Cobos Law Firm apart.
How to Prepare for Your 3M Earplug Lawsuit Consultation
Once you contact our legal team to schedule a free case evaluation, there are a few things you can do to prepare.
- Gather copies of hearing test records from the VA.
- Make a list of questions for your personal injury attorney. For example, write down any questions about documentation, the timeline, the claims process, etc.
- Write down the details. Include dates you recall using the earplugs and the timeline for the onset of any hearing issues.
- Consider questions about your options. Typically, cases involve either settlements or trials.
If you have trouble locating records of any hearing tests, the VA should have them. When you meet with our legal team, be sure to ask any questions you have. Your free consultation is an opportunity for you to gain clarification. With effective communication, the attorney-client relationship works more smoothly
At The Cobos Law Firm, we understand the importance of holding negligent parties accountable. Let us show you that we are the advocate you need to pursue compensation. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing until we win for you. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.