3M company agreed to pay $9.1 million in settlements to the US government for a lawsuit alleging they supplied the U.S. military with defective earplugs. The suit, which involved the second version of 3M’s “dual-ended combat arms earplugs,” was initiated by a corporate whistleblower alleging that 3M knew their CAEv2 product was too short for proper use for certain individuals. As a result, the earplugs could loosen very slightly in the ear until they could no longer provide adequate noise cancellation, leading to hearing loss for many users.
The lawsuit was brought forward under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows a private party to bring forward a suit on behalf of the government regarding the submission of false claims for government funds. The whistleblower personally received $1.9 million of the settlement according to the Department of Justice. Although this is not a claim brought forth by someone suffering from hearing loss due to the product, individuals claiming damages from hearing loss as a result of 3M’s alleged negligence may be able to bring claims.
While this particular case was settled, 3M did not admit to any liability in their settlement with the plaintiffs in their lawsuit. The US government, however, still claimed that 3M was aware of the earplugs’ defective design and chose not to disclose this defect to military officials when finalizing their contract. 3M has since discontinued the product and cites the settlement not as an admission of wrongdoing, but as a chance for the company to move forward past a long investigation and legal process.
3M may not have admitted to any liability in their settlement, but this lawsuit shows that they did distribute a defectively designed product at a mass scale. If you or a loved one were a victim of hearing loss due to these poorly designed and negligently distributed earplugs, you should be entitled to any damages incurred as a result. When our heroes return home from active service with hearing losses due to the negligence of others, our skilled and experienced staff of defective products lawyers are ready to fight with them for the best outcome possible. To set up a free case evaluation today, call today.