3M Combat Earplugs Multi-District Litigation

Case: In Re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, Case Number 3:19-md-02885-MCR-GRJ
Court: United States District Court, Northern District of Florida


Wallace Miller represents individuals who suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of using 3M and Aearo Technologies defective combat earplugs, which were sold to U.S. Troops from 2003 to 2015.

Hearing loss is one of the most common and widespread issues affecting the men and women of the United States military. But while dangerous levels of sound are an unavoidable aspect of combat zones, many military personnel may have been needlessly exposed to hearing loss by using defective combat earplugs distributed by 3M.

In 2018, manufacturer 3M agreed to a $9.1 million settlement to resolve claims that the company knowingly sold defective dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to the Department of Defense. The earplugs became standard issue and were supplied to thousands of servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2015. The CAEv2 earplugs were marketed as being dual-purpose: wearing them one way would allow sounds such as speech to be heard while blocking out dangerously loud combat noise, and wearing them the other way would completely block out all sound, providing protection from damaging sounds like gunfire.

The whistleblower (“qui tam”) lawsuit alleged that 3M (and Aearo Technologies, which was acquired by 3M in 2008) knowingly sold CAEv2 earplugs that contained a critical design defect. Allegedly, the CAEv2 earplugs were too short for proper insertion into soldier’s ears, causing them to loosen imperceptibly during use which effectively rendered the earplugs useless.

3M and Aearo Technologies were not only accused of knowing about the defect as early as 2000, but also of manipulating test results to make the CAEv2 earplugs appear to meet government standards. Without the necessary protection of adequate noise reduction, thousands of U.S. servicemembers may have unknowingly suffered permanent hearing loss and auditory damage from the sound of gunfire and explosions, resulting in injury, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and medical bills.

If you or a loved one were an actively deployed servicemember between 2003 and 2015 and have been diagnosed with partial or total hearing loss or tinnitus suffered during service in the U.S. military, please give us a call to discuss your potential legal options.