Facts About 3m Earplugs

Military personnel, between 2003 and 2015, experienced risk for permanent hearing loss and other hearing impairments due to allegedly defective 3M combat arms earplugs. 3M Company is one of the largest multinational companies in the United States. It was awarded a government contract to manufacture combat earplugs for the military. The U.S. Department of Justice sued 3M for supplying defective earplugs and deliberately manipulating test results to show that it was up to standard. That case was concluded with a $9.1 million settlement. With that kind of settlement, the case has the potential to be among the biggest lawsuits of our time.

If you or a loved one served in the military within this time and currently suffer hearing loss and/or tinnitus, you may be entitled to compensation. This means you need to separate facts from fiction as regards to the case. Here are the facts behind 3M combat earplug lawsuits.

Affected Dates

Military personnel who served between 2003 and 2015 experienced hearing loss after using the standard issued 3M Combat Arms earplugs.

Lawsuit Allegations

The False Claims Act lawsuit filed by the U.S Department of Justice alleged that military contractor 3M deliberately sold defective 3M combat arms earplugs to the United States military between 2003 and 2015. This means that the “known” defects disqualified the earplugs from meeting the government’s standard requirement, but 3M allegedly manipulated the standard test results.

Defective Dual-Ended Earplugs

The Dual-ended 3M combat earplugs stated in lawsuit had green on one side and yellow on the other. Each color represented a certain level of noise protection for the wearer. However, the fundamental function of the earplugs was faulty because they were too short. The earplugs could also loosen without the wearer knowing. Both of these product design shortcomings made the military personnel vulnerable to damaging noise levels which contributed to hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

Outcome of Whistleblower False Claims Act Case

A July 2018 lawsuit verdict ruled that 3M was guilty of knowingly selling defective combat arms earplugs (CAEv2) to the United States military by refusing to disclose that the earplugs could result in the wearer’s hearing loss and/or tinnitus. As a result, the U.S. military obtained a $9.1 million settlement from 3M.

$9.1 Million Settlement

Because the original whistleblower case was filed under the False Claims Act, the settlement funds go directly to the U.S. military. This means that the compensation won goes to the government to recover the money spent to buy 3M’s allegedly defective combat arms earplugs. However, the 3M settlement will not directly benefit injured military personnel.

New Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuits

In the bid to recover compensation on behalf of injured veterans, attorneys are filing multi-district litigation, whereby individuals file 3M combat earplugs lawsuits based on their personal experience and injuries. Financial compensation could cover medical bills, pain, suffering, and other damages obtainable from the alleged defective earplugs.


If you or your loved one meet the following criteria, you may be entitled for compensation. Moreover, the compensation in no way affects any disability or other service-related benefits you may currently be receiving:

  • Served in the military between 2003 -2015
  • Issued 3M earplugs during service
  • Suffer from permanent hearing loss or tinnitus

How to File an Individual Lawsuit

If you meet any of the criteria, you may be entitled to compensation from 3M. Contact your lawyer to know what steps you need to take. Please note that time restrictions may apply to this case, so meet with your attorney as soon as possible.