3M officials deny servicemembers deserved to know about Combat Arms Ear Plugs risks

A US Army soldier speaks into a radio over loud combat noises.

Officials with 3M have said that U.S. soldiers who used the company’s Combat Arms Ear Plugs did not need to know about potential safety issues with the products. These statements were made in a deposition that was recently unseal as part of the thousands of lawsuits against 3M over safety issues involving the Combat Arms earplugs.

The Combat Arms Ear Plugs Version 2 (CAEv2) — recognizable by their distinctive yellow and black dual-ended shape — were designed to protect soldiers and other military personnel from hearing damage and hearing loss due to explosions, gunfire, bombs, aircraft, and other loud noises during combat. The earplugs were the only earplugs supplied by the U.S. military between between 2003 and 2012, and continued to be used by military personnel until 2015.

Before the products were first sold in 2003, tests performed by the manufacturer determined that Combat Arms Ear Plugs were less than 50% effective at reducing loud noises as the minimum standards demanded by the U.S. military. But in spite of these findings, the manufacturers of the earplugs falsely certified that they met government standards.

As a result of this deception, thousands of servicemembers in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and other military branches may have been exposed to potential hearing damage or hearing loss in combat.

Documents Unsealed in Earplugs Lawsuits Against 3M, Aero Technologies

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against 3M by soldiers and military personnel who allege that they suffered damage to their hearing as a result of 3M’s deception. As part of these lawsuits, thousands of documents were recently unsealed, including company emails, depositions, and other records.

One of these documents included the depositions of officials with 3M. When one of these officials was asked whether U.S. soldiers and service members had a right to know about the fact that the Combat Arms Ear Plugs had been tested in a different way from how they were being used in combat, the official reportedly stated, “I don’t believe so.”

Another official with Aero Technologies, the company that originally developed the Combat Arms Ear Plugs, was asked whether it was okay to conceal information about the potential defects of the product from military personnel.

According to the recently unsealed depositions, the official said, “I suppose it is, if the product is working in most cases.” The official also stated that it would be okay “to sell a product and conceal information where it will have a negative effect on our soldiers”.

Military Personnel With Hearing Loss or Damage May Qualify for a Lawsuit

3M and Aero Technologies are currently facing about 140,000 lawsuits filed by soldiers and servicemembers who suffered hearing loss or hearing damage as a result of using the companies’ dual-ended Combat Arms Ear Plugs.

The first lawsuit over hearing loss or hearing damage caused by 3M earplugs was filed in 2018. Due to the massive number of lawsuits that have been filed in the two years since, these cases were eventually consolidated in a multi-district litigation (MDL) in Florida.

To qualify to file a lawsuit, potential plaintiffs must have served in the military between 2003 and 2015, been equipped with the yellow-and-black Combat Arms Ear Plugs, and have been diagnosed with unilateral or bilateral hearing loss.

For more information about the earplugs lawsuits filed against 3M and to find out whether you may qualify to file a claim, contact the lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117 for a free legal consultation. You can also reach us by answering a few simple questions on our free case evaluation form located on the right side of this page.

About the Author: Hissey, Mulderig & Friend