VA – 3M only faces a small payout of $1,385.08 a day for defective earplugs over 18 years.

All links are to the webpage for the lawsuit on unless otherwise noted.

3M sold the Combat Arms Earplugs to the US military from 2000, along with the sales was the coverup that the earplugs failed to do the one job they have, dampening sound that is damaging to the ears.

The Department of Justice announced today that 3M Company (3M), headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, 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.

Link to article on

A lawsuit ended up with a payout of a whopping 9.1 million dollars, not counting that over 1 million is supposed to go to the “whistleblower,” which works out to short of $1,400 a day for millions of earplugs and millions of blown eardrums.

The allegations resolved by the settlement were brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.  The act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the government when they believe that defendants submitted false claims for government funds and to share in any recovery.  As part of today’s resolution, the whistleblower will receive $1,911,000.

Besides the fact that it is impossible, yes, impossible to always have hearing protection, we were given this crap. Over 18 years, there were no follow-on studies conducted? These were hailed as the holy grail of earplugs. I hated them. They were so bulky that they just slipped right out of the ear. Or one of the rubber ends would fall off. The corded version would snap. They were all garbage. Hearing protection is a real problem in every aspect of the military. I have severe tinnitus from standing around jet engines day in and day out.

Patented Dual-Protection Design 3MTM Combat ArmsTM Earplugs (CAE) meet the demanding hearing protection needs of the armed forces. In the Open/Weapons Fire mode, CAE allows greater situational awareness than a common foam earplug yet helps attenuate dangerous peak levels with a filter element that reacts quickly to
provide increased protection. In the Closed/Constant Protection mode, CAE protects against highlevel steady noises like those in tracked vehicles and air transport. The corded version of the Combat Arms utilizes a new finger-touch rocker cover that can be operated while the earplug is in the ear.

From 3M brochure for the CAE

One of the most common injuries in the military is hearing loss and tinnitus. It is always said among the troops that if you lose your hearing, it is your own fault because they give you earplugs. Well…

The settlement announced today 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.

So the money clearly is useless, and we see that major manufacturers can get away with fraud that led to hearing damage in untold numbers of military personnel.

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