Depositions Reveal No Proof 3M Warned Military of Earplug Defect and Fix
More and more military veterans are filing lawsuits against 3M, alleging that the company knowingly sold the military defective earplugs. In turn, the veterans claim that they have sustained significant injuries – ranging from tinnitus to complete hearing loss.
Despite the fact that 3M agreed to pay more than $9.1 million to the government to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit that involved a similar matter, the company refuses to accept responsibility. In fact, newly uncovered documents seem to indicate that 3M knew there was a problem, knew there was a solution, but didn’t think it had any obligation to pass that information onto the military.
3M Combat Arms Earplug v2 Were Too Short
3M’s earplugs are reportedly defective because they’re too short. They don’t fit all the way into the ear canal and, as a result, don’t create a seal. This seal is critical in the proper function of the safety device. Without that seal, military servicemembers can be exposed to dangerous levels of noise. After all, that’s why the military includes earplugs as part of its standard-issue equipment. To keep servicemen and servicewomen safe.
During initial testing, 3M discovered this issue. However, the company also reportedly learned that the problem could be solved if the earplugs were manipulated. By folding back the flanges on the opposite end of the plug, the device fits much better.
Initially, 3M claims that it told the government about this issue. However, depositions that were recently uncovered seem to say otherwise. According to the depositions, “3M officials couldn’t point to documents or calls in which U.S. military representatives were told that the earplugs can imperceptibly loosen.”
One sales manager for the company even went so far as to say that he didn’t believe that military personnel were entitled to know that the way the product was tested – and found to work – was different from the instructions they received about using them. He also admitted to never having shown the servicemembers he met while visiting military bases how to use the device properly.
Companies Have an Obligation to Disclose Risks
Tens of thousands of military veterans have filed lawsuits claiming that they’ve suffered injuries because their Combat Arms earplugs didn’t work. The lawsuits are based on the legal doctrine of product liability.
Every state has product liability laws. While they’re all somewhat different, they all say basically the same thing. Companies can be held strictly liable for harm caused by defects in their products. There are a few different types of defects. There are design defects, which occur when a product is unsafe because of the way it is designed. There are manufacturing defects, which mean that a product isn’t safe because of the way it was constructed or put together. Then there are marketing defects, which means that the company failed to adequately warn a consumer about risks or dangers associated with a product.
Here, many lawsuits claim that the Combat Arms Earplugs v2 suffer from a design defect. They’re simply too short to work properly, at least when used according to the instructions. Plaintiffs are also arguing that a marketing defect exists. In other words, 3M is liable because the company failed to warn and provide proper instructions in using the earplugs safely.
It doesn’t matter how much care the company took in designing, manufacturing, or marketing the product. If a defect exists, it can potentially be held financially accountable for resulting harm. That’s what hundreds of thousands of military veterans are banking on.
Can Any Veterans File a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?
The defective 3M earplugs were provided to military personnel between 2003 and 2015. It’s possible that anyone in the military might have received the device, including individuals in training and on active duty. Those most likely to have received the defective 3M earplugs are individuals who, during this period of time, were deployed to:
- Libia, and
- The Indian Ocean.
The best way to find out if you have a case is by contacting an experienced 3M earplug injury attorney. A lawyer can review the circumstances of your case, explain your potential legal options, and answer the questions you have. If you do have a legitimate claim, you could potentially recover substantial monetary damages from 3M.