In May of 2016, a groundbreaking whistleblower lawsuit was filed against the 3M company. The lawsuit alleged that not only were these defective earplugs sold to the government but the allegations in the lawsuit were that 3M knew of the defect during the time they were sold.
Martzell, Bickford and Centola and Berniard Law Firm on behalf of Yuri M. Johnson filed against the 3M Company in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The Plaintiff, Yuri M. Johnson, is a US Army combat veteran. During his time with the Army, he was stationed at Jackson Barracks located at New Orleans, Louisiana. Yuri was deployed overseas in Iraq in 2005, deployed to Camp Shelby in Mississippi in 2007 and also was deployed to a base in Michigan, in 2009. Yuri alleges that while serving with the army he was supplied defective dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs to protect his hearing.
Unfortunately, the earplugs supplied to Yuri during his time with the army were the same earplugs that were the subject of a whistle-blower lawsuit that alleged the earplugs contained a dangerous design defect. The whistle-blower lawsuit went on to allege that when the earplug is used the way it is supposed to be used it can become loose in the ear canal which leads to a failure to provide hearing protection. As a result of that whistle-blower lawsuit, the Defendant 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it supplied the United States with defective dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs. See United States of America ex rel. Moldex-Metric, Inc. v. 3M Company;
As a result of using these earplugs during combat and training, Mr. Johnson alleges that he continues to suffer daily from tinnitus, hearing loss, and other damages. According to the allegations of the lawsuit, 3M employees were aware of the defects as early as 2000, several years before 3M/Aearo became the exclusive provider of the earplugs to the military. The lawsuit goes on to state, that despite this knowledge, in 2003, Aearo submitted a bid in response to the military’s Request for Proposal to supply large quantities of these defective earplugs and entered into a contract pursuant to which it became the exclusive supplier of earplugs to the military.
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Source: Martzell, Bickford & Centola