What are Combat Arms Earplugs?
Manufactured by 3M™ Company, Combat Arms™ Earplugs (CAE) are commonly used by servicemen and servicewomen “to meet the demanding hearing protection needs of the armed forces.” According to the product’s brochure, Combat Arms™ Earplugs sufficiently protect a user’s ear from most of the weapons used in the military’s inventory, including shoulder-fired rockets.
Combat Arms™ Earplugs are available in two versions:
- Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs – The original patented dual-protection design allows the user to hear low-level sounds when one side (the yellow side) of the earplug is inserted.
- Single-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs – Two modes (Open/Weapons Fire and Closed/Constant Protection) allow the user to adjust the level of protection to fit a particular situation. The Open/Weapons Fire mode “allows greater situational awareness than a common foam earplug yet helps attenuate dangerous peak levels with a filter element that reacts quickly to provide increased protection” and the Closed/Constant Protection mode “protects against high-level steady noises like those in tracked vehicles and air transport.”
Both dual-ended and single-ended CAEs quickly reduce high-impulse noises, are reusable, and do not require a battery to operate.
Complications Associated With the Use of Combat Arms Earplugs
Servicemen and servicewomen are at an increased risk of hearing loss and tinnitus than the general public, and soldiers who used the potentially defective earplugs could be even more susceptible to hearing loss and/or tinnitus.
According to an announcement made by the U.S. Department of Justice in July 2018, a lawsuit filed under the “qui tam” provisions of the False Claims Act claimed that 3M Company “knowingly sold the dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to the United States military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device.”
If you or a loved one were issued Combat Arms™ Earplugs while serving in the United States Military between 2003 and 2015 and experience hearing loss and/or tinnitus, you may be able to file a claim with the help of an affiliated attorney.
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People who are considering filing a “qui tam” lawsuit may wish to seek legal counsel from a whistleblower lawyer who can bring cases involving fraud against the federal government under the False Claims Act.
Both federal and state False Claims Acts prohibit an employer from retaliating against or harassing an employee for reporting or attempting to uncover fraud against the government. If retaliation does occur, the whistleblower may be eligible to recover compensation for back pay, attorney fees, and litigation costs.