The Combat Arms Earplugs, a product made by Aearo Technologies Inc. and 3M, were sold to several branches of the military between 2003 and 2015. The dual-ended earplugs were designed to protect service members from ear damage caused by loud noises in combat.
Hearing loss and tinnitus are among the most common service-related disabilities in veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The Combat Arms earplugs were intended to prevent these disabilities in service members, particularly those deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2016, a whistleblower complaint claimed that the companies knowingly sold defective Combat Arms earplugs to the military during this time, putting them at risk of hearing damage. Though 3M settled with the United States Department of Justice for $9.1 million, hundreds of veterans have come forward with significant hearing problems making them eligible to file their own 3M earplug lawsuit.