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3M’s Military Combat Earplug Lawsuit

3M Earplug lawsuits are due to the defective design of the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEV2) which caused the ear plugs to loosen, leading to hearing damage and hearing loss for thousands of veterans and active duty military

3M Military Ear Plugs

Defective design of the 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEV2)


Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEV2) Design and Failure

Description of dual ended version 3M earplugs
A defective earplug design caused Combat Arms/CAEv2 to slowly loosen over time, leaving military users at risk of permanent hearing damage.

Symptoms of hearing loss caused by the defective earplugs may include:

  • Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears
  • Listening to Television or Radio At High Volumes
  • Trouble Understanding Speech (Especially with female and young voices)
  • Difficulty Hearing Certain Word Sounds (i.e. “s”, “sh”, “th”, “f”, “v”)
  • Often Asking People To Repeat Themselves
  • Need for a Hearing Aid

The defective earplugs were dual-color-coded – YELLOW on one end for Weapons-Fire Mode and DARK GREEN on the other end for Closed/Constant Protection Mode. Weapons-Fire mode forced sound through a filter that was supposed to selectively restrict high-level impulsive noise while allowing lower-level sound through.  The more intense the sound, the more it should have been restricted in this mode. Closed/Constant Protection mode was supposed to restrict all sounds, including constant noise like aircraft or loud vehicles.


The combat-focused hearing protection devices were the standard issue military earplugs for twelve straight years (2003-2015).

3M negligently and/or knowingly misled the U. S. Government about the safety and effectiveness of its ear plugs that were issued to military members between 2003 and 2015.

However, according to 3M’s internal documents, we now have reason to believe that 3M actually knew its defective ear plugs would not provide acceptable hearing protection for military members if the ear plugs came loose during combat or training exercises. Specifically, we believe the evidence will show that 3M had knowledge all along that the ear plugs were actually too short to stay in place properly, thus making them totally ineffective to prevent hearing loss.


When 3M sold its defective ear plugs to the U.S. Government, it claimed that the CAEV2 ear plugs were capable of suppressing sounds up to 190 decibels when fitted properly. Unfortunately for thousands of military members, 3M likely knew that these defective earplugs were impossible to fit properly and therefore totally ineffective at protecting their hearing.


According to the Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits Report, hearing damage is the most common service connected disability with over three million veterans affected by hearing loss or tinnitus. In 2017, the VA reported 81,529 new claims of hearing loss and 159,800 new claims of tinnitus. This is not entirely surprising given the intense noise environment of active military duty, but standard-issue faulty earplugs certainly did not help.

3M has already been sued by the U.S. Government for providing defective ear plugs for military use, and now we are representing soldiers directly in lawsuits against the ear plug manufacturer, 3M.

  • These lawsuits are only against the ear plug manufacturer, not against the US Government or your branch of the military.
  • Additionally, these lawsuits are NOT a class action. Instead, every individual client will have their own individual lawsuit and damages will be awarded directly to that client based on his or her own specific hearing loss damages.
  • It is important to remember that often the signs of hearing loss experienced in combat may not arise for several years later. Thus, someone that suffered hearing loss in combat due to these defective 3M ear plugs may not show signs of hearing loss until after their military service is completed.

As lawyers handling these cases, we work on a contingency basis, meaning you will have zero upfront costs and we only receive a fee if we are successful for you. Contact Burnham Law Today. Call 719-600-9876. 


Contact Burnham Law today

Call 719.600.9876 or click here