In July of this past year, Minnesota-based 3M Company resolved a whistle blower lawsuit brought against them by a former employee that alleged 3M had contracted with the US Military selling the military ear plugs, of which they knew were defective but chose not to disclose to the military.

3M agreed to a $9 million settlement in the whistle-blower case, with the whistle-blower receiving nearly $2 million (Federal law allows for any whistle-blower to recover a large portion of any settlement or verdict).

Since the settlement, other military men and women have been coming forward contending they suffered hearing loss as a result of using 3M’s product, when they were otherwise under the impression that the ear plugs were safe to use and properly made to prevent hearing loss.

In the settlement, the U.S. government alleged that 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., were aware that the earplugs were too short for proper insertion into users’ ears. As a result, the earplugs could gradually — and subtly — loosen until they did not perform the desired noise cancellation for certain individuals, according to the Department of Justice release.

The United States also alleged that 3M did not disclose this design defect to the military when the contract was finalized.  Read the DOJ press release here.

Service men and women who have legal claims are urged to seek redress before such claims expire.