3M will pay $9.1 million after supplying defective earplugs to the U.S. military
By Christen Smith
3M agreed to pay $9.1 million for allegedly selling defective earplugs to the U.S. military. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke/Army Times)
3M Company will pay $9.1 million to resolve claims it knowingly supplied defective earplugs to the U.S. military, according to a news release from the Department of Justice published last week.
The settlement comes two years after a whistleblower, a California-based manufacturer of safety products called Moldex, sued 3M for violating the False Claims Act, alleging the company– and its predecessor Aearo Technologies — knew its dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs became imperceptibly loose in the ear canal as early as 2000. The undisclosed defect remained a secret for years, according to court documents, as thousands of soldiers — reportedly more than half — sustained “significant hearing loss and tinnitus” while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2015.
Meanwhile, 3M profited more than $9 million off its exclusive government contract, court records show.
“In addition to funding the military’s repeated purchases of the defective earplugs from 3M for more than a decade, taxpayers must also shoulder the massive expense of treating veterans with hearing damage and impairment, which represents the largest ongoing medical cost to the military,” attorneys for Moldex said in