Two United States Army veterans have filed civil suits against 3M for injuries they’ve sustained as a result of the corporation’s design and manufacturing of faulty earplugs and then knowingly selling them to the US government.
Earlier this year, 3M settled with the government after a whistleblower contacted officials and informed them that not only was it buying faulty earplugs to protect the hearing of its servicemen and women, but that the corporation knew the plugs were faulty and had known about the defect for quite some time. The earplugs in question were 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs; a two-sided design that offered concussive protection when one side was used, and a broader sound deadening effect when flipped to the other side.
The plugs, however, were not able to effectively stay in place in the ear canal and thousands of soldiers were exposed to dangerously loud sounds as a result. Those soldiers, believing that their hearing was being protected, are now suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus.
“What is quiet? What’s peace? I know for me personally, I don’t have it,” said one of the veterans. “All I hear is ringing if there’s no noise around me. If I do not have noise around me, it’s maddening. It is torture.”
3M settled the government’s complaint for a mere $9 million, or the equivalent of one year’s worth of sales on a relationship that started back in 2006. The corporation accepted no liability in the settlement and denied any issues with the design of the earplugs. One of the reasons the vets have filed a 3M Combat Arms earplug lawsuit is to get the corporation to admit to its wrongdoing and apologize. “Still wanting, you know, wanting to raise awareness to our fellow service members to get the – to get the word out…But then, you know, also wanting 3M to own up to it, to explain it more. We can maybe start with an apology,” said one of the veterans involved in the suit.
3M continues to design and manufacture equipment for the US military despite knowingly producing and selling a faulty product that has harmed the men and women who chose to serve their country.