3M Company to Pay $9.1 Million to Settle Allegations That It Knowingly Sold Defective Earplugs to the U.S. Military
The now-discontinued Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs (CAEv2) were standard issued equipment for soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2015.
In those 12 years, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency had distributed millions of dollars’ worth of Combat Arms earplugs to thousands of service members – without knowing about their defects – putting these men and women at risk for permanent hearing loss or impairment.
What Went Wrong with the CAEv2 Earplugs?
With their dual-ended design, Combat Arms CAEv2 Earplugs were meant to be used as either traditional earplugs or flipped over to provide normal hearing while protecting eardrums from gunfire and explosions.
However, there are claims that the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into users’ ears. This means they could gradually loosen in some users’ ears, effectively rendering them useless.
In addition, 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, allegedly knew about design problems as early as 2000, when the earplugs failed to pass safety tests. 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve these allegations, though the company has admitted no wrongdoing.