3M EARPLUG LAWSUIT: HEARING DAMAGE TO U.S. VETERANS
Maher Law Firm attorney Matthew Mokwa recently received a call from a Marine veteran in his early 20s who was diagnosed with hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). We spoke to this amazing veteran, guided him through the process and are thrilled to take on his case to seek justice for the loss and injury he has sustained while fighting to protect our country.
He fought for us, now we’re fighting for him.
A little background
3M had a defense contract with the U.S. government to manufacture Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs for military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2015. These were standard issue earplugs handed out to millions of service men and women. The earplugs were designed to have two levels of protection. One side blocked all noise. The other side was intended to protect the eardrum from gunfire and explosions, but still allow soldiers to communicate potentially life-or-death instructions to one another. But the earplugs were made too short, therefore not going deep enough into the ear and allowing deafening noise to enter the ear canal.
According to suit, 3M sold these faulty earplugs to the U.S. government without warning about the defects that decreased the products’ effectiveness. The story doesn’t end there. A whistleblower came forward, stating that not only were the earplugs defective, but that 3M knew they were defective as early as 2000 and continued to manufacture and sell them to the military.
3M Settles with the U.S. Government
In July 2018, 3M agreed to pay a settlement of $9.1 million to the U.S. government for the defective earplugs.
But 3M has admitted no liability in the case, and although they have paid out almost $10 million to resolve the Department of Defense allegations, they have yet to help the actual service members who have suffered serious hearing damage.
Hearing loss, a disability that affects every second of every day of some veterans, does not have to be an inevitable casualty of war.
A First-Hand Account
In a moving article written for The Washington Post, Stephen Carlson, an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division who served two tours in Afghanistan, openly discussed his post-war life living with severe, debilitating hearing loss. After a bomb went off in Afghanistan, Carlson was rushed to Bagram Air Force Base, where, unable to hear what the doctor was trying to say to him, the doctor showed Carlson a drawing of his eardrums—merely hanging shreds.
"[Hearing loss] has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of veterans, and they generally accept it as a cost of doing business. It does not have to be that way,” Carlson wrote. "The dangers to hearing in the military are too many to count. The number of high-capacity engines involved are legion, from jets to tanks to the massive turbines powering ships. The crack of a standard M16A2 rifle is 152 decibels, nearly twice what is needed to inflict slow but permanent injury.”
Carlson’s article continued: "Retired Army Capt. Mark Brogan, who suffered a nearly severed arm, along with spine and brain damage from a suicide bomber in Iraq, thinks hearing loss and tinnitus are among his worst injuries. As Brogan put it, "You’ve been to a concert, you know how your ears are ringing afterward? It’s just like that my entire life. A lot of guys get home and they probably don’t even think of getting their hearing checked.’”
Now, We’re Fighting for U.S. Veterans
The Maher Law Firm has spent the past 50 years helping people who were wronged. We’re a nationally recognized product liability firm and work to hold major companies and corporations accountable for their actions—because their business decisions affect our personal lives.
We stand by our veterans and want to help. If you are a veteran and have hearing loss and/or tinnitus, please call us: 407-839-0866. We’re here for you.