Whitley Law Firm Stands with Veterans Injured From 3M Earplugs
The field of battle is one that fraught with dangers and circumstances that demand the most of our service members. In order to fight for our freedom, it is paramount that our soldiers receive equipment that is second-to-none. Nevertheless, some military equipment producers have been at the center of investigations by the government due to these companies’ tendencies to produce subpar equipment.
One entity embroiled in legal battles due to their defective military equipment is the manufacturing company 3M, which just settled a $9.1 million lawsuit lodged by the United States Government. This ruling came after the government—in concert with a whistleblower—alleged the company knew there was a design flaw in their combat ear-plug equipment yet failed to disclose the defect.
While this lawsuit ended without 3M admitting liability or guilt, it should serve as a boon for injured veterans throughout the nation. Rather than being left to deal with the consequences of their service alone, many attorneys nationwide have become advocates for these injured heroes.
In response to this case, the Pentagon has begun creating programs to better prepare soldiers to be combat-ready and ready to utilize their equipment in an effective manner. Despite these initiatives by the Department of Defense, many soldiers still believe hearing damage is part of the cost of serving, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The Injuries from 3M’s Products
According to a recent NPR report, soldiers who have used 3M earplugs reported hearing loss in both ears, as well as a persistent hearing defect known as tinnitus. Veterans described the hearing effects of these injuries as, “a chorus of cicadas, like an ambient noise that constantly causes interference.” While some Veterans claim 3M holds some blame, many still believe that hearing damage is part of the cost of service. The proliferation of the injuries from these ear-plugs is quite significant, as these 3M earplugs were dispersed between 2003 and 2015 during the peak of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These earplugs were a part of soldiers’ everyday activities—from driving vehicles to discharging firearms, 3M earplugs became a staple in the front-lines of the US armed forces.
Given the frequent use of these products, it is easy to see how the damages resulting from use of 3M’s defective product represents a blatant injustice against our service members. The VA has reported that nearly 1.8 million Veterans receive disability compensation for hearing-related combat injuries, including tinnitus.
The Fight for Compensation
In light of these revelations, attempts have been made by the government to curtail this epidemic. However, many have turned to the legal system to find justice.
Attorneys around the nation have taken the initiative to fight for these injured veterans and have launched class-action lawsuits against 3M for the damages they have caused to military servicemembers. In response to this litigation, 3M stated, “3M has great respect for the brave men and women who protect us…We are not commenting on specific litigation matters at this time.”
The Whitley Law Firm is one such legal team leading the fight for injured veterans. A partner at the firm, Ben Whitley, joined Jay Price on NPR to discuss this issue. He explained, “In North Carolina, we are getting calls daily from folks that are affected. We are representing over a couple hundred folks as it stands right now, and I suspect there will be hundreds more.” In Raleigh, North Carolina, our firm has seen injured veterans as young as 26 years old with double hearing aids and even younger veterans suffering from equally serious hearing complications.
The setting of warfare is unpredictable, and it is reprehensible to think that some companies would knowingly product and distribute defective military equipment. If you know someone who has been injured due to faulty military equipment, contact the Whitley Law Firm today.