Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit
A Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit may be an option for people who suffered partial or total hearing loss while serving in the military. Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were designed for military use, and thousands of men and women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq used them extensively from 2003 to 2015.
An alleged design flaw could have subjected soldiers to dangerous sound levels during training and in combat, resulting in serious and permanent complications such as partial or total hearing loss as well as tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Affected servicemen and servicewomen and their families may be able to pursue a claim and recover compensation with the help of a whistleblower lawyer.
If you or a loved one were issued Combat Arms™ Earplugs between 2003 and 2015 while serving in the military, contact Attorney Group to learn about your options. We offer free, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
Have You Seen a Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit Commercial?
You may have seen a Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit commercial on television and wondered whether you or a loved one have been affected by it and similar products and, if so, whether you are eligible to pursue a claim against the product manufacturer or distributor. The purpose of this article is to provide you with additional information about lawsuits and other litigation involving dangerous consumer products so that you have a better understanding of your options.
What are Combat Arms Earplugs?
Earplugs are small devices primarily used to protect a person’s ears from loud noises. Earplugs are typically inserted into a person’s ear canal. People may also use earplugs to protect their ears from water, dust, wind or other foreign materials.
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
Due to the use of high-powered weapons and constant high-level noises, hearing loss and tinnitus are common injuries among men and women who serve in the military, particularly those who are in training or combat zones.
Hearing loss is typically the result of inner ear or nerve damage and may be caused by a number of things, including exposure to loud noise. Hearing loss cannot be reversed or cured, and people who suffer from hearing loss may need surgery or require a hearing device to improve their ability to hear.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. People who suffer from tinnitus usually report a “ringing sound” in the ears, but other sounds may be perceived as well, including buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing and clicking.
As a result, 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.
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act is a federal law that imposes liability on any person, including companies such as federal contractors, who knowingly submits a false claim to the government or causes another to submit a false claim to the government or knowingly makes a false record or statement to get a false claim paid by the government. The Act was originally enacted in 1863 when Congress was concerned that suppliers of goods were defrauding the Union Army during the Civil War.
Under the Fair Claims Act, private persons may also file suit for violations of the law on behalf of the government. This is known as a “qui tam” action, and the government is required to investigate the complaint once filed. The government has the right to intervene in the action, and the person who filed the complaint is entitled to receive a percentage of the amount recovered by the government.
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.
Lauren A. on May 16, 2016
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Has There Been a Combat Arms Earplugs Recall?
Product recalls may be conducted voluntarily by the product’s manufacturer or by request. Although Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs have not been recalled, the product has been discontinued by its manufacturer, 3M Company.
Future litigation could possibly claim that the product makers failed to disclose known complications linked to their products and that consumers and their loved ones suffered damages as a result.
Failure to warn of potential complications and serious health risks related to a product can be a basis of product liability, regardless of whether the product has been recalled.
Is There a Combat Arms Earplugs Class Action Lawsuit?
Currently, a Combat Arms Earplugs class action lawsuit action has not been filed on behalf of servicemen and servicewomen who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus related to the use of the earplugs. Affiliated attorneys are uncertain at this time if a class action will be certified for those who have been adversely affected by the product.
Instead, if multiple lawsuits are filed against the manufacturers, alleging injuries and other damages caused by Combat Arms Earplugs and similar products, it is anticipated that these potential lawsuits will be consolidated for discovery and other pretrial proceedings.
When cases are consolidated in this way in federal court it is called multidistrict litigation (MDL), and on a state level it is known as a state court consolidated proceeding.
MDLs are distinct from class actions, and it is generally agreed that consolidating cases instead of proceeding in a class action is a more efficient and effective way of handling claims arising from injuries caused by defective products.
In most cases that proceed in an MDL or state court consolidated proceedings, after a certain period of time initial trials, also known as bellwether trials, take place. The purpose of these trials is for the parties to get an idea of the types of evidence and arguments that will made, as well as to see how juries will respond to the evidence and arguments.
After a certain number of cases have been tried, the parties are in a better position to determine whether a case can be settled.
Have There Been Any Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit Settlements?
In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had agreed to a settlement with 3M Company for $9.1 million to resolve allegations associated with a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.
According to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice:
“Aearo was aware of the ear plug’s defects as early as 2000, many years before it and 3M became the exclusive provider of selective attenuation ear plugs to the military. Specifically, the United States alleged that 3M, and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., knew the Combat Arms™ Earplugs v2 were too short for proper insertion into soldiers’ ears and that the ear plugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefore did not perform well for certain individuals, the implication of which could result in serious and permanent hearing damage.”
Affiliated attorneys note that the outcome of any case is never guaranteed, and past results are not necessarily predictive of future outcomes.
Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit News
- July 2018The United States Department of Justice announces that 3M Company “agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it 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.”
How a Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit Attorney Can Help
Product makers have a duty to provide safe products. If there are risks of harm associated with their products, they also must provide adequate warnings. If a manufacturer fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
People injured by Combat Arms™ Earplugs, or other similar consumer products, may be eligible to recover money for:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
Likewise, 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.
The families of those who have died may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.