Earplug manufacturer 3M will pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold defective products to the U.S. military. The alleged misconduct was first brought forward in a whistleblower lawsuit initiated by 3M’s competitor Moldex-Metrics in May 2016.
According to the complaint, 3M knew that its Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2), were not long enough for proper insertion into the ears of users, and it, nevertheless, sold the product to the Defense Logistics Agency.
CAEv2 earplugs have two different positions. They can be used alternatively as traditional earplugs and flipped over for muffling explosion noise, while letting quiet sounds go through them. While 3M’s engineers allegedly knew the earplugs could lose their seal, which would affect performance, the company did not share that information with the government. Tellingly, CAEv2 plugs are now discontinued.
3M earplug malfunction may have caused thousands of U.S. soldiers to suffer tinnitus and related conditions. Thus, the government may not only have endured losses through the purchasing of defective products, but also through the treatment of ailments related to CAEv2 use....