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Breaking News- 3M Battling Veterans Reporting Hearing Loss 

In July 2018, the 3M company agreed to pay a $9.1 million settlement to resolve allegations made by Moldex-Metric on behalf of the U.S. Government. The whistleblower lawsuit claimed that the manufacturer of the dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 or CAEv2, falsified information in order to market and sell the standard-issue equipment to the government. Although Moldex-Metric was able to prove the safety equipment was defective, 3M defended their product and settled without admitting liability.

Since the settlement, thousands of service men and women across the United States have initiated their own lawsuits against 3M in an attempt to obtain compensation of the injuries they developed after using the defective devices.

Users of the CAEv2 including Army veteran, Joshua M. Keiner of Maryland, sustained hearing damage after using the earplugs while training and on deployment. Many users report symptoms including but not limited to ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, issues with balance like vertigo, and difficulty sleeping as the result of more severe inner-ear injuries. Keiner and many others are seeking compensation for pain and suffering, and loss of wages, and incurred medical expenses.

In addition to the sheer volume of complaints, hearing loss is being reported to the VA in record numbers. As cited by the 2017 Veterans Benefit Report issued by the U.S. VA, hearing damage is the most prevalent service-connected disability. In 2017 alone, 1,157,585 veterans were affected by hearing loss, 1,786,980 veterans suffering from tinnitus.

A service member should be able to put their trust behind the safety equipment they’re issued. Unfortunately, it’s possible for a military contractor to both accidentally or even knowingly release a defective product.

To prevent this, the military, backed by the U.S. government, requires equipment contractors to perform thorough product testing, provide accurate documentation, and address all potential issues before releasing to market. However, when the defense contractor submits false test results and product safety information, they must be held accountable. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of both service members to report defects and injuries, as well as the U.S. government, to seek justice.

Author: Joseph Oot


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