Our attorneys are filing lawsuits on behalf of soldiers who suffered major hearing damage because they wore 3M combat earplugs. If you served in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015 and used CAEv2 earplugs, you might have a claim.
How Do the Earplugs Work?
3M’s CAEv2 earplugs were originally created by a company called Aearo Technologies, which was acquired by 3M in 2008. Aearo specially developed the earplugs to meet the needs of servicemen and women. When worn in the closed or “blocked” position, the plugs were intended to keep out loud noises (e.g. gun shots, explosions, tanks, and aircraft). When worn in the open or “unblocked” position, the plugs were intended to significantly reduce loud noises, but also allow soldiers to hear fellow troops and enemy combatants.
Why are the Earplugs Allegedly Defective?
Plaintiffs claim the earplugs were too short and didn’t fit properly in the ear. As a result, the plugs imperceptibly loosened during use and allowed damaging sounds to enter the ear canal. Because the earplug is symmetrical, the defect is said to exist for both ends. In either the open or closed position, the plug’s failure to maintain a tight seal posed risks to the user’s hearing, without them knowing.
What Harm Is Associated With the Earplugs?
Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common problems reported by service members who used 3M combat earplugs.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), over 1.7 million veterans receive compensation for tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, while over 1.1 million veterans receive compensation for hearing loss. Since hearing loss and tinnitus are among the top service-connected disabilities among veterans, soldiers might not immediately tie the problems to 3M earplugs.
The VA says that one of the first symptoms of hearing loss is difficulty distinguishing sounds or understanding speech. Hearing loss can also cause balance disorders.
Tinnitus causes ringing, buzzing, hissing, and high-pitched whistling sounds in the ears. People with tinnitus sometimes report difficulty sleeping and concentrating, as well as associated depression and anxiety.