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AVA Law Group is currently investigating cases on behalf of U.S. military members injured by defective 3M earplugs. According to allegations, 3M’s Dual-sided Combat Arms Earplugs contained dangerous defects that caused US veterans to suffer painful hearing injuries. Soldiers claim 3M’s defective earplugs caused their severe ear injuries, including hearing loss and tinnitus. Allegedly, 3M knew the Combat Arms earplugs contained design flaws and still knowingly sold them to the U.S. military for over a decade.

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with hearing problems after being issued 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs, contact AVA Law Group today. You may be entitled to a cash award through filing a claim against 3M.



From 2003 – 2015, the U.S. military distributed dual ended 3M Combat Arms Earplugs to thousands of American soldiers across the globe. Soldiers even serving in combat zones actively used these earplugs for hearing protecting. According to testimonies, the Combat Arms earplugs were standard issue for many branches of the military. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps ordered over 20,000 pairs of the Combat Arms earplugs in 2003, because they were convinced of the earplugs’ effectiveness. The military made the Combat Arms earplugs standard issue for all deploying soldiers in 2004, affecting soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000’s.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reports hearing problems are the most common service-connected disability among US veterans. Long training periods, combat operations, and extreme noises from vehicles, aircrafts, and weapons increase soldiers’ risk of hearing loss compared to the average American. Hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing disabilities are the most common among individuals in the armed forces. So, earplugs are a necessity for military members, trusted tools to protect and serve them as they protect and serve others.

The dual ended Combat Arms earplugs were originally created and manufactured by Aearo Technologies Inc. Aearo received a contract from the U.S. military in 2003 for the Combat Arms earplugs, which was later taken over by 3M. Corporate giant 3M Company later acquired Aearo in 2008 and continued to distribute the Combat Arms earplugs until they stopped making them in 2015.


According to a 2016 whistleblower lawsuit against 3M, Moldex-Metric Inc. called out the dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs as defective and accused 3M of fraud. The lawsuit blamed 3M for knowingly selling the military defective earplugs for more than a decade, contributing to the hearing injuries of thousands of U.S. soldiers.

According to the lawsuits, the 3M Combat Arms earplugs had a too-short earplug stem that caused the earplug to not fit properly nor safely into soldiers’ ears. The short stem caused the earplug to loosen in the ear canal, exposing soldiers’ ears to dangerously high decibels of sound. Soldiers were unaware at the time that the earplugs were defective, so they continued to use the earplugs without complaint.

Aearo’s earplug design originally intended to block out certain loud noises and protect soldiers’ ears from the intense sounds of gunshots, explosions, etc. But, the short stem subjected soldiers to inadequate hearing protection and caused them to develop extreme hearing disabilities. Now, thousands of claims made by injured veterans say the flawed earplugs failed to adequately protect their ears and contributed to their hearing difficulties and injuries.

According to allegations, Aearo knew of the earplug design flaw as early as 2000. This was three years before they signed a contract with the military and started distributing the earplugs to U.S. military members across the globe. Even when 3M acquired Aearo Tech and its earplug scientists and technicians, they still failed to inform the military of the earplug defect. 3M discontinued selling the Combat Arms earplugs in 2015 and denied any wrongdoing on their part. In July 2018, the Department of Justice reached a $9.1 million dollar settlement with 3M over the Dual Sided Combat Arms Earplugs, settling all claims that 3M defrauded the government by selling them defective military earplugs.

However, innocent soldiers now endure painful, permanent hearing disabilities from using their standard issued earplugs.


Soldiers serving in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015 may be at risk of using dangerously defective 3M earplugs. According to experts, impacted branches of the military include the following:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Corps
  • Air Force
  • All reserves


3M’s Dual-Sided Combat Arms Earplugs are distinguishable by the fact that they are dual sided and dual colored. While the official description says they are olive green on one end, some military members remember that color as black instead. Aearo and 3M claimed the dual-ended design let soldiers insert the olive side to protect ears against all sound.

3M Combat Arms Dual-Sided Earplugs - AVA Law Group

On one end the earplugs are green/olive color without a hole. On the other end the earplugs are yellow with a hole. Both ends have three flanges.

When soldiers inserted the yellow side, the earplugs could still protect against the dangerous noise levels of explosions but still let soldiers hear the spoken commands of their superiors and comrades.


Soldiers harmed by defective 3M earplugs thought they could trust their earplugs while in combat zones or in training. However, they were actually at high risk of hearing damage.

Military members affected by defective 3M earplugs report the following injuries:

  • Hearing difficulties
  • Partial or complete hearing loss
  • Tinnitus

The Department of Defense warns that hearing injuries quickly affect veterans’ work performance, social skills, and even their emotional well-being. Veterans filing 3M earplug lawsuits claim their quality of life has significantly decreased since being diagnosed with hearing disabilities. One soldier even reported to CBS News that since his tinnitus diagnoses, he had no sense of quiet or peace anymore, only ringing ears and pain.

The Mayo Clinic defines tinnitus as “the perception of noise or ringing in the ears”. While some cases of tinnitus are low enough that it does not create a lot of disturbance or pain, many cases of tinnitus cause extreme suffering for veterans. Researchers have identified that veterans with tinnitus are at an increased risk of anxiety and depression from the constant buzzing in their ears.


If you or someone you know served in the US military between 2003 and 2015 and were diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus, contact our injury lawyers today. You may be a victim of defective 3M Combat Arms earplugs.

When you contact our experienced injury attorneys at AVA Law Group, you can rest assured that your information is handled with care and precision. We provide free case evaluations to help determine whether you could be eligible for financial compensation through filing a claim against 3M. Our mission solve problems for you, so we make sure you stay informed during the process of filing a claim and always have a live person talking you through the process. No automated voices or recordings. Even if you decide filing a claim is not in your best interest at this time, you are under no obligation to our firm, and you pay nothing for the consultation.

We go after the company, not the government, in cases like this. We firmly believe company’s fraudulent conduct should not remain unchecked or unchallenged when individuals’ livelihoods are on the line. We understand that we cannot reverse the damage defective earplugs have inflicted on you, but we know that monetary compensation can ease the financial burdens that often come with hearing injuries. To learn more about your legal options and start pursuing justice for your injuries, call AVA Law Group today at 1.866.428.2529.

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