U.S. — Veterans across the country say earplugs the Defense Department bought didn’t protect the hearing of soldiers.
3M, the company that sold the earplugs, is now in the middle of a lawsuit for not protecting the soldiers’ hearing.
The environment of the modern military is loud. So loud in fact that everyone is issued earplugs to protect their hearing.
Kevin Mcanally spent more than two decades in the army working on the CH 47 Chinook helicopter.
“Engines running on a flight line where you might have to say a half a dozen to a dozen aircraft turning up and you’re out walking around either doing maintenance or checking on maintenance, so you’re exposed to a lot of noise,” Mcanally said.
Because of earplugs, the U.S. Government alleges were defective, he’s suffering from hearing loss.
“I can tell by the loudness of the TV now, the loudness of the radio,” Mcanally said.
Thousands of other service members who were issued these earplugs made by 3m company, between 2003 and 2015 may also have significant hearing loss. That hearing loss is evident in audiograms like this one Beltone’s David Adams is administering.
Service members are required to get these audiograms, responding to a series of beeps at different megahertz, when entering and exiting the service. Even those who didn’t go into a combat zone are subject to high noise levels like former military policeman Brandon Wright.
“A lot of stress tests, weapons going off, sirens, concussion grenades going off,” Wright said.
Now both men are suing 3M over the hearing loss they claim was caused by these earplugs.
But attorney Ed Rowan says the company sold them to the military anyway, knowing they were defective. And that says Rowan, who is also a marine, makes it personal.
“They took advantage of veterans, and that riles me up,” Rowan said.
This is not a class-action lawsuit. These are all individual cases being brought before a federal judge in Pensacola, similar to the way the BP lawsuits were handled in New Orleans. We contacted 3M for a response to the lawsuits. The company says we deny this product was defectively designed and will vigorously defend ourselves against such allegations.