Filed on May 12, 2016.
Synopsis: Defendant 3M Company sold defective dual-ended Combat Arms (trademarked) earplugs, which 3M sold to the US Military for more than a decade without its knowledge of the defect. Fraud perpetrated on the military by 3M have likely caused thousands of soldiers to suffer significant hearing loss and tinnitus in addition to exposing millions to the risk caused by 3M’s defective earplugs.
Tinnitus & Hearing Loss: 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs (version 2) Defect
Between 2003 and 2015, the dual-ended 3M Combat Arms Ear Plugs (version 2) were standard-issued equipment for US Military Servicemen across all service branches. This also included soldiers who were deployed to combat zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The earplugs were intended to provide two levels of ear protection: one side was intended to block all noise and the other was intended to protect the eardrums from gunfire and explosions while still allowing soldiers to communicate freely.
The earplugs contained a design flaw that resulted in the ear plugs being too short for proper insertion into users’ ears, causing the earplugs to gradually loosen and not perform well for certain individuals.
This design failure has resulted in high incidences of tinnitus (ringing or buzzing of the ears) as well as partial or full hearing loss.
While many allegations are in the process of being investigated and substantiated, the May 2016 court proceedings (see the court docket attached below) present a series of factual allegations that substantiate the fact that 3M knowingly made false certifications to the military in an effort to push the RFP (Request for Proposal) process through.
How Bad is the Problem?
Data collected by the VA shows that as many as 52% of combat soldiers returning from overseas deployments possess significant hearing damage and represents the largest ongoing medical cost of the military.
In a 2015 report, it was estimated that the VA spends more than $1 billion per year to treat hearing loss for more than 800,000 veterans.
Whistleblower Uncovers Known Design Flaw
It was not until very recently (July 2018), that the extent of 3M’s failure became known when a whistle-blower stepped forward and alleged that the company knew about the design flaw as early as 2000 but continued to market and manufacture the ear plugs without disclosing it.
The Combat Arms Ear Plugs were initially designed and manufactured by Aearo Technologies which was acquired by 3M in 2008.
The result of this whistle-blower’s activity was that 3M agreed to pay a $9 million penalty to the federal government for failing to disclose the design flaw.
Lawyers for Veterans
Manufacturers that do business with the Department of Defense must be held to the highest standards and, more than ever, Veterans need the very best legal representation to bring them justice.
We’ve brought together two prominent Houston law firms (Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz and Bell, Rose & Cobos) to create the very best team in the nation to this case.
Our team on this matter is being led by Andrew J. Cobos: a combat veteran (with two tours in Iraq), West Point graduate and law partner at Bell, Rose & Cobos in Houston, Texas who states, “Ultimately it is my desire to see a dishonest contractor (3M)—who manufactured and knowingly sold faulty earplugs to the government—pay for the harm caused to soldiers who were serving their county. My hope is that this lawsuit will send shock waves throughout the contracting world and communicate the message that repercussions will certainly result from contractors who put their profit motive in front of service members’ health and wellness.”
If you are a Veteran or currently still serving in the military and are suffering from hearing problems as a result of defective ear plugs while in combat or training, we urge you to seek immediate advice from an experienced attorney as statutes of limitation dictate the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.
You can file a claim for representation in under 2 minutes online HERE .
United States v. 3M Company… by on Scribd