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Are You Suffering From The Side Effects of Using 3M Earplugs?

Find Out If You Qualify

From 2003 to 2015, Aearo Technologies Inc. and 3M Company sold its Combat Arms Earplugs™ to several branches of the U.S. military. These dual-ended earplugs were designed to protect military personnel from the loud noises servicemen and women are regularly exposed to in combat and training environments.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, hearing loss, tinnitus (a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears), and hearing impairments are the most common forms of service-related disabilities. The Combat Arms Earplugs™ provided an immediate solution to the need for hearing protection among service members and were standard issue for millions of U.S. soldiers, particularly those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s, until 3M stopped selling them in 2015.

Later in 2016, a whistleblower complaint alleged that 3M knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military for more than a decade, putting the millions of soldiers who used them at risk of hearing damage. 3M later paid $9.1 million to the United States Department of Justice to resolve these claims, but admitted no wrongdoing.

Now, hundreds of veterans who have suffered debilitating hearing problems have filed lawsuits against the company.

Litigation Details

Soldiers who thought the Combat Arms Earplugs™ were protecting them were actually at risk of hearing damage. Many of these soldiers who are now dealing with tinnitus or permanent hearing problems are filing lawsuits that accuse 3M of knowingly committing fraud against the U.S. military, failing to warn soldiers of the design defects, and more. Learn more about the pending litigation and whether you qualify for a lawsuit.

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Military Hearing Loss: Signs & Symptoms

Hearing damage, including tinnitus and hearing loss, is a serious threat to military service members, as dangerous noise exposure can occur constantly in their line of work. Most cases of military hearing loss are a result of damage to the delicate hairs in the inner ear due to loud noises. Hearing damage can occur over time or after a one-time exposure to high-intensity noise, such as artillery fire or an explosion.

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Buzzing, ringing, or whistling in the ears (common tinnitus symptoms)
  • Difficulty understanding conversations in person or over the phone
  • Consistently having to ask people around you to speak up or repeat themselves
  • Sensitivity to or pain from sounds
  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds
  • Turning up the volume of the radio or TV to uncomfortable levels in order to hear

If you are a past or current member of the military and are experiencing any of these side effects, you may be suffering from military hearing loss or tinnitus. It’s important to seek medical attention to be properly diagnosed and treated for hearing damage.

military members using earplugs to prevent hearing loss

3M Earplugs Side Effects & the Design Flaws: What You Need to Know

Healthy hearing is not only crucial for service members to survive in combat situations, but also has a huge impact on a soldier’s health and mental well-being back home. Sadly, veterans are 30 percent more likely than nonveterans to suffer severe hearing impairment, according to the CDC.

With this in mind, protecting service men and womens’ hearing is of the utmost importance to the Department of Defense. When 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs™ were issued to soldiers between 2003 and 2015 for hearing protection, the military nor the soldiers wearing them were warned of the product’s design flaw and the life-changing side effects it caused.

The Combat Arms Earplugs were dual-ended and provided soldiers with two hearing protection options. However, according to the whistleblower complaint, the stem of the earplug was too short, causing it to become loose in the wearer’s ear canal. This defect was impossible for wearers or onlookers to notice.

As soldiers are at a high risk of hearing damage, some of the most common 3M earplugs side effects linked to this design flaw include:

Sensorineural hearing loss: permanent damage to the inner ear and auditory nerve.

Conductive hearing loss: damage to the middle ear and ear drum.

Tinnitus: a constant buzzing or ringing in the ears that happens even when there is no noise present. While many people suffering from tinnitus are able to live normally, some do experience difficulty concentrating and a loss of sleep in severe cases.

What Can You Do If You Were Issued 3M Earplugs and Suffered Hearing Damage?

If you, like many of America’s service members, were issued 3M dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs™ between 2003 and 2015 and are now suffering from permanent hearing loss or tinnitus, you have legal options and may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, decreased quality of life, anxiety, PTSD, and any other problems related to your hearing damage.

Veterans across the country are filing lawsuits against 3M claiming that Aearo Technologies, the earplugs’ original manufacturer knew of the design defect well before their contract with the military. Furthermore, when 3M acquired Aearo, evidence suggests that the company learned of the defect and did nothing to inform the military or correct the flaw.

The recklessness of these companies has caused lifelong injuries to America’s heroes. If you’re in this situation, an experienced 3M earplugs lawyer can help you take legal action. Goldwater Law Firm and our partner law firms are helping veterans affected by the dangerous 3M earplugs side effects file lawsuits. Contact us today at 800-210-9700 or fill out our online form to find out if you qualify and how we can help.