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If so, you may qualify for compensation due to your use of Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2), manufactured by 3M and issued to Veterans, exposed to loud environments, including those deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2015.
According to recent reports released by The Center for Hearing and Communication, hearing loss affects 48 million people in the United States. While some people are born deaf or with hearing impairments, many more people experience hearing loss due to environmental factors. In fact, noise exposure is the leading cause of hearing loss. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more than 2.7 million veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus.
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Veterans are exposed to many environments in which hearing loss can occur. Shooting weapons, explosions, and machinery exposure can all lead to hearing loss. In recent decades, the United States military has made hearing loss prevention a priority. One of the ways in which the military attempted to prevent hearing loss was by issuing earplugs to individuals serving in the military. From 2003-2015, Veterans who were exposed to loud environments, including those deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, were issued Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs (CAEv2), manufactured by 3M. For 12 years, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency issued these plugs to thousands of Veterans who served overseas. We have since learned that the earplugs were defective and failed to protect our soldiers.
The 3M earplugs sold to the military had issues with their “dual-core” design. The design allowed military personnel to use the earplugs in two different ways. They could be used as traditional earplugs, or they could be flipped over to provide hearing protection from explosions and gunfire while allowing the soldiers to communicate freely.
Based on findings from a recent class action lawsuit, 3M and their predecessor, Aearo Technologies, allegedly knew the earplugs were defective, but continued to sell them to the military anyway. As a result, 3M has agreed to pay $9.1 million dollars to the federal government for failing to disclose the design flaw.
3M sold the government faulty dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), which were standard-issue equipment for certain branches of the US military until they were discontinued. 3M failed to disclose design defects, even though they were apparent as early as 2000.
The earplugs’ defects are likely to have caused tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) and significant hearing loss in thousands of soldiers who served from 2003 to 2015. A class action suit is underway, giving Veterans an opportunity to hold 3M accountable and receive the compensation they deserve.
While Veterans of all eras struggle with hearing loss, only certain Veterans are impacted by this class action lawsuit. Veterans exposed to loud environments, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are especially vulnerable. You may qualify if you:
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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law