3M Earplugs Lawsuit
Do you have hearing loss or experience ringing in your ears? Were you a military service member between 2003 and 2015? Did you rely on 3M earplugs for hearing protection? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your hearing disability.
Many veterans experience significant hearing loss after their service due to continued exposure to gunfire, explosions, and machinery noise. The U.S. military recognized this hazard and aimed to provide hearing protection through the use of 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2). These earplugs should have reduced the risk of hearing loss during military service, but a design defect in the CAEv2 earplugs may have caused more harm than good.
Thousands of veterans across the country are now fighting back against 3M, through a lawsuit that claims the company failed to instruct military members on appropriate use and did not disclose a design defect, which compromised the earplugs’ hearing protection.
The 3M company denies all the allegations made against them and their CAEv2 earplugs. However, in 2018 the company paid $9.1 million to plaintiffs involved in a legal battle with the company. The fight for justice for military service members has continued even after this initial resolution, as more lawsuits are filed against 3M every day.
No company should be allowed to take advantage of military members to earn a profit, and you can take action to make 3M pay for their wrongdoing. If you or a loved one experiences hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or loss of balance after using 3M Combat Arms Earplugs, you have the right to demand compensation for this irreparable damage. You need to speak with a skilled mass tort attorney as soon as possible to start your lawsuit and join the nationwide fight against 3M. Here at Lawsuit Authority, it’s our job to help you find that attorney.
Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most common types of hearing loss throughout the United States. The National Institute of Health estimates that as many as 40 million adults under the age of 70 have some level of noise-induced hearing loss. This type of hearing damage occurs due to exposure to extremely loud sounds.
You may experience NIHL after intense, short bursts of sound, such as gunfire, or after long-term exposure to loud sounds, such as helicopter blades. Noise-induced hearing loss may have temporary effects, after limited exposure. However, for most people, this type of hearing loss is permanent.
The ear is a complicated system that transforms pressure waves into sounds that your brain can interpret and understand. All sounds create vibrations, which travel from your outer ear and eardrum, to the bones of your middle ear, and finally to the cochlea in the inner ear. The cochlea contains hair cells that change the sound from vibrations into electrical signals your brain can understand.
Intense noise creates large vibrations, measured in decibels, which can seriously damage the sensitive mechanisms in your ear. Any sound above 85 decibels can kill the hair cells in the inner ear and cause permanent hearing loss because, unlike cells in the rest of the body, hair cells in the inner ear do not regenerate over time.
Impact of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
The most common health concern after noise exposure is hearing loss. Hearing specialists, called audiologists, define the degree of hearing loss you experience by the sounds you can and cannot hear. Noise exposure may cause:
- Mild hearing loss: difficulty hearing and understanding speech
- Moderate hearing loss: inability to hear and understand most speech
- Severe hearing loss: inability to hear sounds such as a phone ringing or a lawnmower
- Profound hearing loss: inability to hear sounds as loud as an airplane engine
Any degree of hearing loss may negatively impact your ability to participate in conversations and a variety of activities, which can cause difficulty in work environments and social situations. Many people with noise-induced hearing loss experience functional, social, and emotional difficulties, including:
- Misunderstanding or inability to join conversations
- Reduced job opportunities
- Social isolation
- Lowered self-esteem
- Increased depression or anxiety
- Decreased interest in preferred activities
- Extreme fatigue
- Increase in irritability and anger
For many people, hearing loss limits their ability to effectively interact with others, which leads to frustration or avoidance of situations in which they may not be able to hear. Hearing loss is one of the most common physical disabilities in America, and an estimated 1.16 million military veterans receive disability compensation for hearing loss.
Additional Health Concerns from Noise Exposure
Hearing loss is not the only symptom of noise exposure that many veterans experience. Some of the other health concerns of intense noise include:
- Tinnitus – a persistent ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. This disorder can cause a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, memory problems, anxiety, and depression.
- Ruptured Ear Drum – loud sounds can create a hole in your eardrum, also called the tympanic membrane, which leads to ear pain, tinnitus, hearing loss, mucus draining from the ear, and nausea or vomiting.
- Balance disorders – the vestibular canal is an organ in your ear which controls your feeling of balance. This organ is located near the inner ear, which means that intense noise can disrupt your vestibular system. You may experience vertigo, lightheadedness, stumbling or imprecise movements, vision changes, sensitivity to light, and disorientation.
All of these symptoms of noise exposure can have a significant impact on your ability to care for yourself and participate in your normal activities. If you experienced extreme noise during military service, you may need hearing aids, medical treatment, or psychological therapy to help you continue your daily activities.
Problems Resulting from 3M Combat Arms Earplugs
Earplugs prevent hearing loss by reducing the amount and intensity of sound vibrations that reach the inner ear. Most reusable earplugs, like the CEAv2 plugs, use a wax or memory foam construction, which molds to the shape of the outer ear. When inserted correctly, the earplug creates a seal over the outer ear, which effectively dampens the impact of external sounds.
The CEAv2 were sold as dual-purpose earplugs, which would reduce different types of sounds depending on how a person wore the plugs. The dark, olive-colored portion of the earplugs functioned like standard earplugs, reducing sounds by up to 22 decibels. According to 3M, the yellow portion of the earplugs would provide noise reduction for loud sound, while still allowing military members to hear commands.
Although this type of decibel range-based noise reduction is possible, a whistleblower claimed that the 3M CEAv2 was too short to adequately reduce loud sounds. This design defect caused the earplug to create an incomplete seal in the outer ear and allowed sound to enter the ear.
According to a 2016 whistleblower lawsuit, the yellow side of the earplugs had a 0-decibel noise reduction rate. This exposed military members to the same amount of noise exposure as they would be without wearing any hearing protection at all.
Not only were the CEAv2 ineffective at providing adequate hearing protection, but many military members state that they did not receive proper instructions about how to use these earplugs. To effectively block sound using earplugs, you must:
- Compress the earplug
- Pull ear back at the earlobe or upper cartilage to lengthen the ear canal
- Place the compressed earplug far enough into the outer ear to reduce sound
- Allow the earplug to expand and fill the outer ear and create a seal
When providing combat earplugs, the 3M company may have failed to instruct military personnel on how to properly insert earplugs, but most importantly, they may not have explained the difference between the dual ends of the plugs.
Both the design defects and the instructional failures of 3M’s combat earplugs may have caused thousands of military service members to lose their hearing or suffer other health consequences of intense noise exposure. Despite reports of problems with the CEAv2 earplugs, 3M continued to sell these earplugs to the U.S. military for over a decade. It is time that 3M takes responsibility for the harm they caused.
Why You Need a Lawyer
If you or a loved one has hearing loss or another noise-related disorder after serving in the military, you need compensation for the impact this disorder has had on your life. However, confronting a large corporation like 3M may seem impossible on your own. This company has a team of lawyers on their staff, who are ready to defend 3M through any means necessary.
That is why you need to work with a skilled mass tort lawyer, who will work as your advocate throughout your lawsuit. Your attorney will not only help you gather evidence and build a strong legal case, but they will ensure that you receive the greatest possible compensation for your case.
Lawsuit Authority will connect you with the right attorney. We have a large network of lawyers and law firms to choose from, and we will be sure to ferret out the attorney with the appropriate skills and experience at winning mass tort claims to help you. Don’t hire just any lawyer. Bringing a mass tort case to a successful conclusion requires years of experience and specialized training. You need Lawsuit Authority to sort through all the potential candidates for you and connect you with the attorney that is a perfect fit for you.
If 3M CEAv2 earplugs have harmed your health, happiness, and well-being, you have the right to fight back and seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Lawsuit Authority at (281) 985-9544 today to find the lawyer who can help you understand the financial support you could receive from a mass tort lawsuit.