Faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs led to hearing loss in many veterans, plaintiff Steven M. being one such Wyoming veteran, who filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District court. Steven mentions 3M and Aearo Technologies LLC as the defendants. Aearo technologies was the original manufacturer of the faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs. Even though they knew about the faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs shortfalls around the turn of the millennia, they continued to sell them to the military. Aearo was maintained as a separate operating unit until the early 2000s and was then taken over by 3M.
3M’s Faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs led to hearing loss for many Veterans
Just like Steven, there are many other veterans who are suing the latter for their hearing loss. In 2018, the U.S. Department of justice and the St. Paul, Minn.-headquartered company reached a $9.1 million settlement to resolve the allegations of selling the substandard faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs to the military without informing about the ill-functioning of the device. Despite the fact that they were too short in length to function properly, they were sold to the Defense Logistics Agency. Later, in the DOJ’s False Claims Act lawsuit, the government confirmed that the two companies understood that the device would not function well without the awareness of the service person using it.
According to the report of K2 radio.com, the faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs were devised with two color coded ends which depended on the degree of ear protection required. The two ends were colored yellow and green and varied in their functioning. When worn with the green end inserted, each and every sound was blocked to the greatest degree possible. When the yellow end was inserted, it was considered more open. It allowed the service person to hear a conversation but reduced the sounds of explosions and gunfire deployment. However, the defect in the length was what led to the ill functioning of the device. Regardless of the method of insertion, the device did not function as required which affected the users’ hearing ability and due to prolonged use of the faulty earplugs, resulted in hearing loss.
- Steven served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years as a Seabee.
- In the year 2014, he was honorably discharged at the rank of Builder Second Class.
- The Wyoming veteran witnessed symptoms of tinnitus at the early age of 34 and claims he developed it because of the faulty earplugs.
What is tinnitus?
It is a perception of noise or ringing in the ears. It is said that tinnitus is not a condition itself, but a symptom of a condition that maybe due to age related crisis or damages caused by an injury. The affected person feels a sensation of ringing, hissing, buzzing and various other sounds. The noise and sounds can be intermittent or at times may be continuous. They often vary in their loudness causing the bearer a great amount of discomfort. Tinnitus has the possibility to increase with time and in rare cases may lead to complete hearing loss. In some cases, tinnitus does not affect hearing at all. The noise hurts more when the background sound is less, making it more difficult to bear.
Prolonged exposure to loud sounds is the most common causes of tinnitus
As of 2019, there are more than 1,220 combat hearing lawsuits pending against 3M. Along with the allegations of committing fraud against the U. S. Military, the soldiers accuse 3M of also falsifying the earplug test results. Along with Steven M., a number of veterans have developed the same hearing complications and a number of families have seen their loved ones going through this misery. The soldiers who have developed tinnitus because of the faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs describe their misery as ‘torture’. The constant ringing and buzzing in their ears makes it difficult for them to focus and sometimes sleep as well.
Veterans Suffer due to Faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs
The faulty dual ended combat earplugs were introduced to the soldiers as a means to protect to their ears from loud deafening sounds that are often produced on field due to numerous reasons. However, the issue turned out to be that the design itself was faulty and did not suffice for the purpose it was created. Despite being too short to function efficiently, the earplugs were sold to the military, causing hearing loss to thousands of soldiers. A huge number of veterans are suing 3m and Aearo technologies for compensation for their hearing loss accusing them of fraud and misleading. Even though the earplugs came with two ends, each colored for a different purpose, they did not function well irrespective of which end was inserted. The sounds were not kept from reaching the soldiers’ ears as expected and the prolonged use of these faulty dual ended combat arms earplugs has led to the suffering of many!