The Case Against 3M: Fighting for Soldiers with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss and tinnitus* (ringing in ears) are both extremely common in soldiers and veterans – regardless of whether the soldier was ever even in combat.  This was confirmed by a 2011 study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine which found that between 16.4%-26.6% of male veterans and 7.3% – 13.4% of female veterans of the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War suffer from serious hearing loss and tinnitus – and also by a 1989 study that found that 33.7% of military recruits tested had high frequency hearing loss after completion of basic training.

It is these staggering statistics that made the Combat Arms Earplugs – an earplug that would protect the hearing of soldiers from hearing loss in combat and in basic training – so exciting.

Based on this promise, in 2003 many branches of the military made 3M Combat Arms Earplugs standard issue.  The dual-ended earplugs, which were manufactured by the Minneapolis-based company, 3M, were designed to provide hearing protection from close range firearms and other loud impact noises.  However, because the earplugs were defectively designed, they were able to slightly loosen and move out of the ear canal enough for loud noises to cause serious hearing damage.  According to reports, 3M knew of these design defects, but knowingly sold the faulty earplugs to the military from 2003-2015 anyway – never disclosing the known defects.

In July 2018, 3M settled a False Claims Act lawsuit for $9.1 million.  The lawsuit alleged that 3M knowingly supplied the military with defective earplugs.  None of the $9.1 Million paid was for the compensation of soldiers who had lost their hearing as a result of the defective plugs.   If you or someone you love were in the military between 2003-2015 and suffered hearing loss, call us today.

There is never a fee unless we recover for you.



* Tinnitus is commonly referred to as ringing in your ears.  It is a sound in your head with no external source – and for those who suffer from it as a result of traumatic hearing loss – it is often constant and permanent.  Unfortunately, there is no real treatment and no cure.