The U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement of $9 million with the American company 3M over the sale of their earplugs to the U.S. military. The problem arose when allegations came forward stating that not only were their Duel-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs faulty but that they may have been aware of these defects since as far back as 2000. Many U.S. veterans are now suffering from permanent health problems concerning their ears due to this issue and may decide to seek retribution personally.
After military personnel continued to report auditory damage such as tinnitus, a sensation of persistent ringing in the ears, and in some cases complete loss of hearing, 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were found to have a major flaw. These black and yellow earplugs were supposed to be designed to have two levels of protection while blocking out any noise coming from aircrafts, bombs, explosions, and guns. Upon inspection though, it was discovered that the end made to fit the ear canal was not long enough. This small miscalculation in size left just enough space for loud sounds to penetrate the ear canal, and cause irreversible damage.
These earplugs were first manufactured by Aero Technologies, and were later acquired by 3M. 3M, formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation that focuses on worker safety, health care, and common goods. 3M had a government contract to provide a safe product to those who serve in the military, and due to these allegations may have failed to do so. Some are claiming that both 3M, as well as their predecessor, knew about the deficiency of their product, and decided against informing the military of it when they signed their contract with the Defense Logistics Agency.