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Faulty 3M Military Earplugs Spark Lawsuits


Many veterans who bravely served their countries in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home injured. Enemy action did not cause all of those injuries. In a recent lawsuit, hundreds of veterans claimed defective combat earplugs damaged their hearing.

Faulty 3M military earplugs failed to maintain a tight seal and allowed dangerously loud sounds to reach the wearer without his or her knowledge, Military Times reported.

The lawsuits claim Minnesota-based 3M designed defective Combat Arms earplugs for military personnel. The veterans accuse the company of failing to warn users of the defect and not providing proper instructions for the use of the earplugs.

Military personnel used 3Ms dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs while in service from 2003 t0 2015, according to reports.

What Impact Did the Use of 3M Military Earplugs Have on Wearers?

Injured veterans who are suing 3M claim the earplugs became loose without them realizing it, exposing them to loud noises on the battlefield or in training.

Many veterans are claiming their use of the defective earplugs caused permanent hearing loss. Others claim to suffer from tinnitus or constant ringing in the ears.

These are very serious side effects. Hearing is vital for many jobs and affects functions like balance. Veterans who suffered hearing loss are struggling to get their lives back on track after their ordeal. Hampton Roads has a large military community that is impacted by this issue. Please contact the Smith Law Center today if you suffered hearing loss or damage after using 3M military earplugs. 

What Allegations Were Brought Against 3M over Military Earplugs? 

A lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act in 2016. It claimed that the military contractor sold defective combat earplugs to the U.S. government despite knowing the devices failed to meet safety standards.

3M is accused of altering study data relating to its CAEv2 Combat Arms Earplugs. Veterans bringing lawsuits claimed during the testing that 3M researchers couldn’t get the earplugs to block noise at 22 decibels. They discovered they could reach the 22-decibel level if they folded back part of the earplug, according to reports. 3M is accused of failing to give these instructions to the military.

In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve claims that it knowingly sold the U.S. military defective earplugs.

In the settlement, the U.S. government alleged that 3M and its predecessor company, Aearo Technologies, Inc., were aware the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into the ears of users.

The U.S. government alleged that 3M did not disclose its design defect to the military when the contract was finalized. Instead, service personnel learned about the problems with the earplugs the hard way.

Who Can Sue 3M Over Defective 3M Military Earplugs? 

Many military personnel may have suffered hearing loss, tinnitus or other problems because of faulty 3M earplugs. They include combat veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq and reserve members who routinely fired weapons in the United States.

Current and former military service members who served at any time from 2003 to 2015 may also be entitled to compensation from 3M for their hearing loss issues. 

Can Veterans who Already Claim VA Disability Sue 3M? 

Many veterans who suffered from hearing problems receive partial disability and hearing aids from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They may still be entitled to sue 3M for their hearing loss from the use of Combat Arms earplugs. 

You should seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe your hearing problem is linked to the use of faulty earplugs. 

How Widespread is the Problem of Faulty 3M Earplugs? 

The size of the contract 3M entered with the U.S. government suggests hearing issues linked to faulty earplugs in veterans is widespread.

The U.S. government entered into a contract with 3M in 2006, reported Military Times. However, military personnel used earplugs before that date. The company supplied about 15,000 earplug packages, with 50 pairs per package. The lawsuit cites a guaranteed price of at least $9 million per annum in sales. 

3M sold the earphones in bulk to the military until 2015, when it discontinued the product. However, no recalls were issues. The lawsuit warns service personnel may still be using defective earplugs. 

Call an Experienced Hampton Roads Injury Attorney over Faulty 3M Military Earplugs 

At the Smith Law Center, we value the contribution made by our service personnel, past and present. We are shocked by allegations that a company may have sold defective earplugs to the U.S. government when it was aware of the serious risks.

If you or a family member has suffered hearing problems linked to the possible use of 3M earplugs, we want to hear from you. Please contact us today at (757) 244-7000.

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If you or a relative had a severe reaction to military housing mold, it might be time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Mold is everywhere, and can be dangerous. Researchers have linked mold to serious respiratory illnesses in some individuals.

Smith Law Center may be able to help if a property owner failed to keep you safe from mold in your military housing. We are one of Virginia’s oldest and most successful firms. We know how to hold negligent property owners responsible, especially when the military is involved.

Call us at (757) 244-700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. There’s no fee for learning more about Virginia mold laws, your rights, and your legal options.

Mold in Military Housing

Black mold in military housing became widely known when Reuters published an investigation in 2018. Since then, the Department of Defense and the housing providers were supposed to take steps to improve the situation.

Unfortunately, a 2020 audit by the DoD Office of Inspector General found many issues, including the need for mold remediation, still persist.

Monetary Awards in Military Housing Toxic Mold Cases

If the property owner lets toxic mold run wild and continue to cause you harm, talk with our toxic mold attorneys about filing a lawsuit.

You may receive financial compensation for:

Service members and their families do not receive different types of damages than civilians. These are civil lawsuits in traditional courts of law.

Military Housing Mold Toxicity Symptoms

The Institute of Medicine discovered there was evidence connecting exposure to indoor mold with:

  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms;
  • Coughing;
  • Wheezing;
  • Asthma symptoms in individuals with asthma; and
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals with weak immune systems.

There is also limited evidence that mold causes respiratory illnesses in healthy children or causes people to develop asthma.

Understanding Exposure to Toxic Mold in Military Housing

The topic of toxic mold is complicated. This Is in part because the term “toxic mold” isn’t accurate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains mold isn’t toxic or poisonous. However, some molds are toxigenic, which means they produce toxins called mycotoxins.

Mold is common in military housing because it’ll grow anywhere there’s moisture. That includes on and inside walls, carpet, upholstery, wallpaper, and heating and air conditioning systems. This is especially pronounced in humid conditions such as those present in Virginia.

Some people have no difficulties around mold, even large infestations in their homes. Other individuals are sensitive to molds, including those that produce mycotoxins. Someone can have a severe reaction when exposed to a large amount of mold indoors.

People may be more likely to experience mold toxicity symptoms if they have:

  • Allergies,
  • An underlying lung disease,
  • Immune suppression,
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder,
  • Asthma, or
  • Another chronic respiratory disease.

Common Types of Military Housing Mold

When you’re trying to learn more from the CDC and other resources, you’ll see the word “fungus” a lot. Mold is a type of fungus, which is something that exists all around us. Fungi are living organisms different from animals, plants, and bacteria. There are over 200,000 types of fungi and over 100,000 types of molds.

If you discovered mold in your military housing, it could be Cladosporium, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus, or many other types. Stachybotrys is what everyone knows as black mold. Aspergillus is a common indoor fungus, which releases mycotoxins and can cause illness. Your symptoms may resemble common allergy or asthma symptoms.

Who is Liable for Military Housing Mold?

Since 1996, most military housing has come under the management of private companies:

  • Belfour Beatty Communities: Fort Eustis and Fort Story/li>
  • Lincoln Military Housing: Dahlgren, Little Creek, Naval Station Norfolk, Northwest Annex, Oceana, Portsmouth, Quantico, and Yorktown/li>
  • Hunt Military Communities: Fort Lee and Langley AFB

Outside of Virginia, Lendlease and Corvias Military Living are two more housing providers. Together, these five companies formed the Military Housing Association.

Military families living in on-base housing must take their complaints to their private management company — not the military. The company is responsible for providing habitable conditions and making repairs, including mold remediation.

If you’re unsure about your rights, review your state law and local ordinances about mold. In general, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide a habitable unit, which means it has to be safe to live in. A unit isn’t safe if it’s causing a tenant health issues due to mold.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to disclose if there’s mold in the written report of the move-in inspection. If a tenant discovers visible mold in the unit, then the Act requires the landlord to remove the mold and relocate the tenant until it’s gone at no additional cost to the tenant.

Unfortunately, many families find their housing providers aren’t receptive to complaints. Attorney Stephen M. Smith has handled many mold lawsuits against military housing providers who fail to abide by their lease terms and the law when it comes to mold remediation and other hazards.

Other Hazards in Military Housing

Many service members and their families deal with uncomfortable, if not hazardous, conditions in privatized military housing, including:

Lead Paint: Lead-based paint can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, organ damage, and in extreme cases, death.

Asbestos: Exposure to asbestos harms a person’s lungs, and can lead to lung fibrosis (scarring), lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Radon: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It naturally forms underground, however cracks and gaps in buildings lead to over-exposure indoors.

Poor Water Quality: Dozens of military sites have water with detectable levels of harmful chemicals.

Other issues involve rodent or insect infestations, pesticides, and faulty electrical wiring.

What Happens When a Lot of People Get Sick?

Sometimes mold exposure impacts a single individual or family. However, when the mold spreads throughout military housing, it can impact hundreds or thousands of people.

Occasionally, a large enough group of people are injured to allow for a class action or mass tort lawsuit. A class action lawsuit is one where a class representative acts as the plaintiff on behalf of the group of hurt individuals. Not every victim participates in the lawsuit. There are rules about when a group is big and similar enough to create a class action.

Mass tort lawsuits are different. When there are fewer plaintiffs who have their own set of circumstances, each person files a lawsuit. For efficiency’s sake, one or a couple of law firms may represent most plaintiffs, and the lawsuits are consolidated in a federal court.

Call the Military Housing Mold Lawyers at Smith Law Center for Help Right Away

Mold cases come about in a few ways. You or a loved one may start getting sick, and after weeks or months of struggling to find answers, you finally realize your military housing has a mold infestation. In other cases, you struggle with visible mold and then become ill.

Once you connect the illness with the mold, it’s time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Reaching out to an attorney early helps you build a strong compensation claim. We know how to collect evidence, identify who is liable, and craft a successful argument for a settlement or court award.

Attorney Stephen M. Smith has decades of experience handling injury claims and has been internationally recognized for his work. He has litigated cases involving catastrophic injuries and complex legal and scientific issues. In 2019, he was inducted into the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame.

You’re in good hands when you come to Smith Law Center for help. Reach out online or call (757) 244-7000 to schedule your 100% free consultation.

Military Housing Mold Lawsuits: FAQs

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