BEAUMONT – All over the nation, lawsuits are being brought against the 3M Company, alleging the manufacture sold defective combat earplugs to the U.S. government.
On March 18, one such lawsuit was filed in Jefferson County on behalf of David Martin, a veteran who now suffers from hearing loss.
“David Martin, and thousands of other veterans across the nation, used Combat Earplugs while in training and deployment on active military duty,” the suit states.
“While Mr. Martin was serving our country and fighting on the battlefield, little did he know those Combat Earplugs were defective and would expose him to dangerous and harmful noise the Combat Earplugs were supposed to protect him against.”
The suit accuses 3M of rigging testing in order to secure lucrative contracts with the government. As result, military men and women are now suffering from significant hearing loss and tinnitus.
Lawsuits against 3M have been blowing up for the past year, a trend that was sparked after a whistleblower revealed the company’s testing and marketing practices.
Currently, there are around 200 lawsuits against 3M in just the Western District of Texas.
Martin’s attorney, Cody Dishon, a partner at The Ferguson Law Firm, says this particular case hit home.
"Since 2003, military men and women used defective ear plugs while serving our great country, including my close friend,” said Dishon. “The sad reality is that the company knew the earplugs had problems. The company paid the government over $9 Million in a whistleblower settlement but did nothing to help vets.
“Our military deserves the best equipment, not bad products. And absolutely no one should be allowed to profit at the expense of our veterans."
Staring in 2003 and continuing through 2015, 3M sold thousands of Combat Earplugs to the government. 3M and its predecessor, Aero Technologies, were the exclusive manufacture and supplier of the earplugs during that 12-year span.
According to Martin’s lawsuit, he enlisted in the Air Force in 2005 and was deployed to overseas to combat zones on several occasions, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
He now suffers from hearing loss and ringing in the ears.
Lawsuits against 3M claim the earplugs failed because they possessed a dangerous design defect that caused them to imperceptibly loosen in the wearer’s ear, allowing damaging sounds to enter the ear canal around the outside of the earplug.
Martin’s suit accuses 3M of negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.
He is seeking an award of punitive damages.
Judge Kent Walston, 58th District Court, has been assigned to the case.
Case No. A-203519