The Department of Justice announced that 3M™ Company (3M) has agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold the dual-ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to the United States military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device.
The settlement resolves allegations that 3M™ violated the False Claims Act by selling or causing to be sold defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency. Specifically, the United States alleged that 3M™, and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., knew the CAEv2 was too short for proper insertion into users’ ears and that the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefore did not perform well for certain individuals. The United States further alleged that 3M™ did not disclose this design defect to the military.
If you or someone you know served in the military and have been diagnosed with partial or total hearing loss, contact us now and find out if you have a case.
The product in question, dual-ended Combat Arms Ear Plugs (version 2), contained a design flaw that resulted in the ear plugs being too short for proper insertion into users’ ears, causing the earplugs to gradually loosen and not perform well for certain individuals. In July 2018, after a whistle blower stepped forward, Minnesota-based 3M agreed to pay a $9 million penalty to the federal government for failing to disclose the design flaw.
The whistleblower alleged the company knew about the design flaw as early as 2000 but continued to market and manufacture the ear plugs without disclosing it. The Combat Arms Ear Plugs were initially designed and manufactured by Aearo Technologies. The company was acquired by 3M in 2008.