Veterans sue earplug company over hearing loss

Hundreds of veterans have filed lawsuits against a manufacturer of earplugs sold to the U.S. military because they say the earplugs are faulty and they now have permanent hearing loss.

The lawsuits allege Minnesota-based 3M sold defective dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs.

Last year, the U.S. government and 3M settled a lawsuit for $9.1 million, resolving allegations it knowingly sold the earplugs without “disclosing defects.”

Attorney Mikal Watts spoke to KXAN.

“There’s going to be over 100,000 plaintiffs, in this case, would be my guess,” Watts said.

“It’s clearly fraudulent testing,” he said of the testing 3M did of the earplugs before they were sold to the military. “It’s sent our men and women into combat and training areas with extraordinarily damaging noise levels, they thought they were protected.”

In the previously settled case, the government argued that the company knew their earplugs were too short and that they could loosen without being noticed. The government argued that as a result, the plugs didn’t block out all sounds and led to hearing problems.

A hearing in March will determine whether all the lawsuits can be consolidated to be put in front of a single judge.

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