3M Settles Combat Arms Whistleblower Claim for $9.1 Million

On July 26, 2018, the United States Department of Justice announced that the 3M Company agreed to pay $9.1 Million to resolve allegations that it supplied the United States government with defective Combat Arms earplugs (read full announcement).  Part of the allegations against 3M involved claims that 3M knew that the Combat Arms CAEv2 were “too short for proper insertion into users’ ears and the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly” and therefore “did not perform well for certain individuals.”  The Department of Justice also alleged that 3M did not disclose the defect to the military.  While 3M voluntarily agreed to settle the federal whistleblower claim for $9.1 Million, 3M has refused to admit responsibility for any harm caused by the ear plugs.

Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs
Dual-ended CAE earplugs sold by 3M. (3M Company)

What does the 3m whistleblower settlement mean to me?

The $9.1 Million settlement 3M reached with the federal government in 2018 does not mean that 3M has agreed to accept responsibility for their defective product.  3M has not agreed to compensate soldiers and contractors who were exposed to injury as a result of 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs. While we have learned valuable information from the allegations brought against 3M, the settlement does not mean that your case is automatically established.  We expect that 3M will fight all cases brought against them in the coming months and years.

How to I know if I have a case?

Right now, lawyers across the country are working hard to establish that 3M knew that it was selling a defective product to the U.S. government.  As additional discovery is conducted, we will all learn additional information regarding what 3M knew, or should have known, about the defective nature of its Combat Arms earplugs.  However, based on the information that has been disclosed publicly, we know that the Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2) were issued to military personnel and government contractors between 2003 and 2015.  If you were in the military, or worked around the military, during this time period, you may have a claim if you also experienced hearing loss or tinnitus.

Is there a deadline for filing a claim against 3m for defective earplugs?

The Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2) were used between 2003 and 2015.  Because of the length of time that has passed from when these earplugs were used, we anticipate that 3M will attempt to avoid all responsibility for injuries caused by these earplugs by asserting the defense of statute of limitations.  The statute of limitations is a defense that allows a defendant to avoid liability if too much time has passed from the date of the defendant’s negligence. Most states only allow two years or less to bring a claim for a defective product.  However, when a company fraudulently conceals important information from consumers, some courts will agree to extend the time allowed for filing based on the manufacturer’s attempt to conceal information. Because the Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2) was no longer used after 2015, it is important that you file your claim immediately if you believe you were injured by 3M earplugs while serving in the United States Military.

As a result of 3M’s defective Combat Arms earplugs, active duty military may have been wrongfully exposed to increased risk of hearing loss or tinnitus.  If you or someone you know experienced a loss of hearing while serving in the armed forces, contact Haun Mena today for a free consultation.

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