The Goss Law Firm — Your Kansas City Defective Device Attorneys

Our military protects us every day, and we must return the honor. When we fall short, our soldiers deserve justice.

From 2003 to late 2015, the 3M Company, widely known as 3M, sold over 2.25 million pairs of dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs to soldiers in the U.S. Military for use in combat. Originally designed and manufactured by Aearo Technologies, Inc. (or “Aearo”) before being bought by 3M in 2008, the earplugs were designed to have a dual purpose: providing soldiers with protection from extremely loud noises such as battlefield explosions, while also allowing them to hear quieter sounds such as conversations with fellow soldiers and officer commands depending on which end of the product that the wearer uses. For instance, soldiers could hear and gauge their surroundings better when worn in the “open” position (or yellow end in). Conversely, all sound is blocked out when worn in the “closed” position (or green end in). 

Beginning in 2004, all soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan were issued a set of the 3M earplugs. The earplug company saw much success in the following period, as they brought in $9 million in sales in 2006 alone. 

Defective Combat Earplugs Cause Hearing Loss in Soldiers 

Unfortunately, despite its skyrocketing sales, recent developments have indicated significant defects in the design, testing, and execution of the earplugs. For example, the white “stem” that connects the yellow and green end of each earplug is too short, thereby limiting the soldier’s ability to adequately place the earplug in their ears for a secure fit. When in combat, unbeknownst to the wearer, the earplugs can then loosen and no longer protect against hearing loss or meet the military standard trusted by soldiers nationwide — and it does not stop just there.

3M Knew About Earplug Defect As Military Sales Proceeded

Since 2000, 3M tested the earplugs to ensure the proper noise reduction rating (NRR) for use in combat. For the yellow, “open” end, despite the industry standard being a 0 NRR, the product had a -2 NRR, which suggests amplification of all surrounding noises and nearly guarantees hearing damage. Yet, 3M proceeded with deceptively manufacturing, labeling, and marketing the “open” end of the product to have a 0 NRR. 

Additionally, the green or “closed” end of the earplug, which is meant to block the user from all surrounding noises with an NRR of 22, was found to have an NRR of 10.9, which is nearly half of the industry standard. 

3M was able to have this approved through a means of manipulation; for a second study of the “closed” end, the test subjects folded back the flaps of the yellow end to ensure a secure fit in the ear canal. This way, 3M was able to pass the inspection and sell the product, failing to inform users of the manipulated insertion process, and intentionally subjecting users to potential hearing loss, tinnitus, and other short and long-term complications. Not only did the earplugs not meet the criteria of “Salient Characteristics,” a standard used by the U.S. military to protect the welfare of its soldiers, but this was a violation of the Fair Claims Act, which serves to verify that the claims a manufacturer makes about their products are accurate.

Compensation Available For 3M Combat Earplug Users

In July of 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve a lawsuit pursued by the U.S. Department of Justice, which, among other claims, alleged that 3M knowingly sold a defective product (its dual-ended Combat Arms™ earplugs) to the U.S. military, violating the Fair Claims Act. The details of this complaint revealed that the U.S. military has certain standards (“Salient Characteristics”) concerning protective hearing devices, like the Combat Arms™ earplugs. As such, 3M was required to test the earplugs to ensure that they had an adequate noise reduction rating (“NRR”), which they did not.

Users of 3M Combat Arms™ earplugs who have suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing damage are entitled to significant compensation for their experience.  Soldiers, veterans, and their families have to go through enough as it is, on and off the battlefield. Defective earplugs once trusted by all should not have to compromise their peace.

Kansas City Defective 3M Combat Earplugs Attorney 

Have you or a loved one used 3M Combat Arms earplugs while on the battlefield, resulting in hearing loss, tinnitus, or other hearing-related injuries? You may be entitled to substantial compensation. With a compassionate, reputable defective device attorney by your side, your hope for recovery could be restored. At The Goss Law Firm, your case matters to us. Submit the web form below or call The Goss Law Firm office toll-free at 816-888-5000 today for a free legal consultation.

We Stand for You 

Until it happens to you, you never understand the pressures and pains that come in the aftermath of a defective device. At the Goss Law Firm, we have seen those devastating effects firsthand. This knowledge fuels our compassion—and strengthens our resolve to guide victims and their families through difficult times.

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If you or someone you love were injured from a defective device, let the Goss Law Firm explain your rights and legal options. Call us today at 816-839-6452 to schedule your free consultation.

The Goss Law Firm — Your Kansas City Defective Device Attorneys