The Los Angeles injury lawyers at Steven M. Sweat APC are currently reviewing defective earplugs cases to veterans who have suffered hearing losses or tinnitus after using the CAEv2 earplugs. The earplugs were used by service members who served from 2003 to 2015 and were olive and yellow in color. If you remember using these earplugs and have suffered a hearing loss, contact our office today for a free case review from an experienced California attorney.
The contract with 3M & Aearo Technologies
Aearo Technologies was awarded a contract by the government after claiming that the company had invented a selective attenuation earplug. The company was later acquired by 3M. The earplugs at issue are dual-ended with separate functions on each end. The yellow end was open to allow low-level sounds such as vocal commands to be heard. The other end was olive green and was closed to protect against high- and low-level sounds.
The idea behind the earplugs was to protect against hearing loss while also allowing service members to communicate. However, they had design defects that Aearo and 3M failed to disclose to the government. The earplugs were issued to servicemembers for use in combat zones to protect their hearing from the sounds of explosions and gunfire.
Defects in the 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs
The CAEv2 earplugs had a design flaw. When they were tested, they were found to be too short. This defect meant that they did not properly fit in the ear canal and did not completely seal the canal from loud noises. The earplugs fit too loosely in the wearers’ ears. It wasn’t possible to see from the outside that the earplugs weren’t properly sealing the ears, which allowed damaging noises to cause hearing injuries to U.S. soldiers.
Instead of fixing the design flaw, Aearo decided to make changes to the procedure for fitting the earplugs into the ear. An Aearo member folded the yellow rim on the earplug’s open end before fitting it in the test subject’s ear. This elongated the earplug so that it would seal the ear canal. However, 3M and Aearo never disclosed this modification or the defect to the soldiers who used them in combat and training. The companies knew about the design defect before they ever began selling them to the government. The government subsequently issued the defective earplugs as a part of the standard gear to millions of service members.
Injuries resulting from using 3M’s dual-sided earplugs
Many women and men who served in the armed forces were given these earplugs and have subsequently suffered from severe hearing problems. The primary injuries that have been reported include partial hearing losses, full hearing losses, and tinnitus. The design defect is believed to have caused these injuries.
Soldiers who are in training or combat routinely are exposed to high noise levels. Noises that are above 85 decibels can cause severe hearing losses. It is critical for service members to have good ear protection while they perform their duties to prevent hearing loss.
Percussive sounds from explosions, shoulder-fired rockets, gunfire, and launchers can significantly damage the hairs of the inner ear and the cochlear nerve cells. When these parts of the ear are damaged, the electrical signals that are sent to the brain are interfered with, impairing the hearing.
Tinnitus is when you hear ringing in your ears. While a doctor can detect hearing loss, there is no examination for tinnitus. Instead, you may be diagnosed with tinnitus after your doctor asks you a number of questions. Tinnitus occurs when the hair cells in your inner ear are damaged. These cells respond to sound waves. When they are broken or bent, they might send signals to the brain when sounds are not present. If you have tinnitus, you may experience a constant ringing, humming, clicking, hissing, or humming sound in your ears. Tinnitus can be devastating to people and can impact their mental health. Some people who suffer from tinnitus develop depression or anxiety. Tinnitus may also be a contributing factor to higher rates of suicide among war veterans. Suffering hearing problems because of the earplugs has also caused some veterans to have fewer employment options.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reports that 2.7 million veterans receive disability benefits for tinnitus and hearing losses. The number continues to grow larger. 3M was contracted as a defense contractor for the military and provided its defective earplugs from 2003 to 2015. Hundreds of thousands of service members are believed to have tinnitus or hearing losses because of the defective earplugs.
What to do if you have suffered hearing damage after using the earplugs
Many service members have suffered damage to their hearing because of the carelessness of 3M. If you are a former or current service member who served at any time between 2003 and 2015, you may have legal rights. If you suffer from tinnitus or have lost all or part of your hearing after using the CAEv2 earplugs, it may be a good idea for you to talk to an experienced injury lawyer about your rights. A legal consultation is confidential, which means that the government will not be told that you consulted with an attorney.
Why you should consider filing a lawsuit
Many people hesitate to file legal claims because they feel they are not the litigious type. While it is true that a lawsuit will not cure your hearing loss or tinnitus, filing a claim can help you to hold 3M and Aearo Technologies accountable for their wrongful actions. You may be able to recover compensation to help both you and your family. In addition to the potential compensatory damages, you might be able to recover punitive damages to prevent other companies from engaging in similar conduct.
You are not obligated to file a lawsuit right now and will not be pressured to do so. When you speak with a California lawyer at Steven M. Sweat APC, we will help you to understand the options that might be available to you and how we might be able to help you. Contact the law firm of Steven M. Sweat APC today by calling us at 323.944.0993 to schedule a free and confidential review of your potential claim.