Patient Safety News: 3M to Pay $9.1 Million in Defective Earplug Settlement

See related CBS news story: Veterans sue 3M, claiming defective earplugs​

As part of a False Claims Act settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the 3M Company agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold its dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (also known as CAEv2) to the U.S. military without disclosing the product had defects that hampered its effectiveness, and failed to provide hearing protection to the wearer.

Now discontinued, the CAEv2 were standard equipment issued to soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2015. The purpose was to protect the wearers from the noise of war, including gunfire, bombings and explosions.

The suit charged 3M knew the earplugs were too short, and as a result could loosen without the wearer realizing it, and ultimately fail to offer the hearing protection it was purchased to deliver. The charges also included that 3M failed to tell its customer, the military, about this defect which exposed thousands of servicemen and women to risk of hearing impairment or hearing loss.

Berman & Simmons attorney Susan Faunce is handling claims involving service members who were issued earplugs during their deployment between 2003 and 2015 and developed permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.

“Our service members who volunteer to put their lives on the line deserve better than this,” said Faunce who is helping victims in these cases. “Those military personnel who are injured as a result of using these defective earplugs deserve compensation for their losses.”

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, the Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Although the case has been resolved, all claims within the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.