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3M Combat Earplugs

On July 26, 2018, the manufacturer of Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs, 3M Company, agreed to pay the U.S. military $9.1 million to resolve allegations that 3M Company knowingly supplied the U.S. military with a defective product. In entering the settlement, 3M Company made no admissions of wrongdoing and no determinations of liability were made.

Although the company admitted no wrongdoing, individual U.S. servicemen and women are filing lawsuits against 3M Company, alleging that 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., were aware that the earplugs were too short to provide hearing protection when inserted as directed, and lied about the earplugs’ safety.

Now, many U.S. servicemen and servicewomen may be paying the price.

If you have been diagnosed with significant hearing loss or tinnitus after being deployed in the U.S. military between 2003-2015 and being issued and using 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs, Weintraub Law may be able to help you. You may be able to receive financial compensation for the hearing damage itself as well as past and future lost wages if the hearing damage has impaired your ability to work.

Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs

Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs were intended for use by military personnel. One side, with the olive-colored end of the plug in the ear, was intended to provide a block to all sound.


The other, yellow-colored side was purportedly intended to reduce loud impulse sounds, such as an explosion, but allow a person to hear quieter sounds, such as someone’s voice when giving a command.

Damage to Service Member Hearing

In at least one lawsuit, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran says he was issued and used 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms earplugs as directed in active military duty and training. As a result of product design defect, as well as failure to warn and negligence by 3M, among several other claims, he alleges that he is now suffering from hearing damage.

According to the lawsuit, the design of the earplug is inherently defective. If a person inserts the earplug according to the instructions that come with it, the edge of the third flange of the non-inserted end of the earplug presses against the wearers’ ear canal and folds back to its original shape.

Ultimately, the seal of the earplug inside the ear canal becomes loose, though this may not be detectable by the wearer.  When loose, the earplug does not provide adequate protection from noise.  This is true no matter which end the person inserts into an ear.

Without a snug fit, military personnel were not protected from potential damage to their hearing.


If an earplug does not work the way it is supposed to, hearing damage can occur. Hearing loss can be partial to full, and range from mild to profound. Even moderate hearing loss can mean someone cannot hear another person speaking at a normal level.

As well as hearing loss, hearing damage can also include tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition, often related to hearing loss. People with tinnitus may perceive a ringing, buzzing, roaring, hissing, or other types of noise in their ears not related to actual external sounds.

Filing a Lawsuit

As a national firm experienced in representing clients injured by defective devices, Weintraub Law is prepared to file appropriate lawsuits on behalf of servicemen and servicewomen harmed by 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs. 

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