People First. Always.
Imagine being in a loud, hostile environment where in order to SURVIVE your job AND to protect your hearing you are issued a pair of earplugs with a VERY special design. The earplugs are supposed to provide protection from pinpoint firearm noise while allowing you to hear people talking, approaching, etc. just by inserting the Yellow end into your ear. On the other hand, when things get crazy and you are around loud and damaging sounds, you can protect your ears by inserting the Olive colored end of the earplug. Sounds pretty cool, right?
From 2003-2015, millions of our military’s combat soldiers received just such a “miracle” earplug. But there was a problem…a VERY, VERY big problem!
3M, The company who created the Combat Arms Earplug (CAEv2) knowingly put our servicemen and women in harm’s way by allowing their CAEv2 product to be distributed to our military, even through they had failed the required ANSI (American National Standards Institute) TESTING STANDARDS (ANSI S3.19-1974 MPID Section 2.2.2). The natural question to ask is, “Why would any company intentionally put out a product that would cause damage to our military heroes?” The ugly yet obvious answer is…MONEY!
When the military needs a product for its members it puts out a notice called an RFP (“Request for Production”). Companies can make BILLIONS of dollars if they can secure an RFP order as the contracts are INDEFINITE in length…Indefinite Quantity Contracts (“IQCs”).
In this case, 3M wanted to secure the IQC for an ear plug that could be used to allow some sound in if one end was inserted into the ear (Yellow end) and block out all sound if the other end were inserted (Olive end). For the earplug to successfully do its job, it had to demonstrate Noise Reduction Rates (NRR) of 22 decibels or more. 3M’s CAEv2 earplug failed the testing process MISERABLY when the Olive end (designed to keep out all sound) tested at 10.9 decibels and the Yellow end tested at -2! What this meant to users is that if they used the Olive end, they were not protected but if they had in the Yellow end, the sound was actually AMPLIFIED into the wearer’s ear!!
The results came back so bad that 3M discontinued the test before even testing the final two subjects. Instead of going back to the drawing board to fix what was determined to be a design flaw, they simply manipulated the testing process to get the contract from the military. 3M retested the Olive end by having the test subjects “fold” the material to create a temporary seal. Besides that, they NEVER even retested the Yellow end with the “new fit” so that they could claim the device worked to allow in sound when that end was inserted into the ear.. 3M figured out a way to “fool” the testing process. This was easy to do since 3M did all its own testing rather than using an independent testing company.
Because of their false reporting and faulty testing, 3M won the IQC contract with the US Military and was guaranteed $9 MILLION in 2006 alone. These sales went on continually from 2003-2012 while they were the “exclusive supplier” of millions of pairs of CAEv2 earplugs.
If this were just about the sales of earplugs, that’d be one thing. Unfortunately, the lack of a properly performing earplug led to a MASSIVE injury rate to the ears of our combat soldiers during the time period from 2003-2012. It’s reported that 52% of combat soldiers returning from conflicts have significant hearing damage. This is the largest ongoing medical cost in the military with more than $1 BILLION/year spent on the treatment of hearing loss and related disorders for more than 800,000 veterans.
We are often asked the question, “What are some of the most prominent symptoms and injuries associated with hearing-loss injuries?” When the ear/s experience damage from loud and ongoing noise-trauma there are several symptoms that can occur. Many of them are combined under the diagnosis of Tinnitus. The classic symptoms of Tinnitus include buzzing, ringing, roaring, whistling or hissing sounds, most noticeable in quiet environments and often worse at bedtime. Besides these common symptoms, there can also be associated symptoms of Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia. The mechanism behind many of these symptoms is thought to come from an abnormal neuronal activity in a part of the brain known as the auditory cortex. The way several of the symptoms of Tinnitus have been compared is to that of “phantom limb pain” in people with amputations. When people who’ve suffered sound trauma to the ears experience “mental symptoms”, they don’t understand where they come from and feel like “they shouldn’t be happening!”
At Ramos Law, we are 100% committed to helping our U.S. Service Members who’ve been injured by 3M in their reckless practices. We are standing up and holding 3M accountable for their actions. The fault in this situation is NOT with our military and there is no action against it. We are working on behalf of any US Service Member who:
1.) Served our country through a military deployment from 2003-2015
2.) Suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus (or any of the symptoms described above)
3.) Used the dual ended “Combat Arms” earplugs in the military.
It’s important to note that US Service Members involved in this action are NOT subject to any penalty of their disability benefits.
To learn more about this case or to have us fight for you, call Ramos Law today at 303-733-6353 or click the link below to get a call scheduled with one of our attorneys.
US Service Members and US Military Veterans, we are here for you and…THANK YOU for your service!!!
Ramos Law Press Conference Statement
“Hello, I’m Dr. Joseph Ramos at Ramos Law. I’m a medical doctor and an attorney. And I’m here today to educate you about the 3M Earplug Lawsuit, and the reason that our law firm has decided to take on these cases. We don’t just jump in on cases for money grab. We’re not just another law firm, posting up QuickPages, trying to get people to sign up. Before we take on cases, there has to be a very good reason. We have to believe in it. We have to believe in the justice and the reason behind what we’re doing. The 3M Earplug Lawsuit reminds me in many ways of the television show, “American Greed.” If you’ve never seen this television show, in brief, it’s about people and companies who do things out of greed and for money, that is the 3M Earplug Lawsuit. What’s it about? You should know. If you’ve been a military serviceman anywhere or woman from 2003 through 2015, again, that’s 2003 through 2015, you were likely issued the 3M earplug for sound protection, hearing protection, for safety. Unfortunately, you didn’t get that. Today, we have over 52% of our veterans returning from foreign deployments with hearing loss. The biggest source of disability for our veterans administration hospitals in excess of $1 billion a year annually is hearing issues, hearing loss, issues of tinnitus, balance dysfunction, and just the plain inability to hear.
And a lot of that stems back to these 3M earplugs. So here’s what happened. 3M is a major corporation, who touts that they are innovative in their inventions for protecting people. There was a call by the government called “a request for production,” where they wanted an earplug designed. They wanted an earplug that had the ability to block out noises with a substantial…there’s a standard called the American National Standards Institute, where they require basically hearing protection of up to 22 decibels. So the military says, “We want a device, a hearing device, protective device that will block out up to 22 decibels. But we also want this hearing device to be able to, with low tones, like voices, we want our soldiers to be able to hear. So if they’re in a combat situation, low tones will get through, high, sharp, pulsatile tones will be blocked, essentially, one of these type of hearing protection devices that does both, and you may have seen these at a local shooting range, even with headphones they’ve designed to do exactly this. And they designed this earplug, a dual-ended earplug, and they made it where one end of it allowed for this complete hearing protection of 22 decibels, and the other end allowed you to hear voices and talking.
And the soldiers simply had to reverse it in order to get this protection. 3M was quick to respond to the American government’s request for production and said, “We have the product.” Now, this is despite knowing that three years earlier, they had tested the product and guess what? It had failed. 3M jumped on this opportunity for profit. When I saw that my very freedoms, the people that we love and support, our American troops are being handed basically fraudulent, unprotective hearing devices simply for profit of a company, it made me sick to my stomach. So 3M, with regard to the profit portion of this, they produced millions of pairs of earplugs. In the first year alone, the contract was for $9 million. They had the exclusivity to provide this to the U.S. government. They got the government to buy into their lies. What were their lies? First of all, on the 22 decibels of protection that they were supposed to provide, they tested 10 of their employees in-house. With the first eight, the decimal protection was 10.9. It was half of what it needed to be. In fact, the decimal protection was so bad that they didn’t even test the final two employees they had set up for testing. Now, you’ll notice I’m saying, they tested their employees, it’s because, guess who operated the testing facility? 3M didn’t go to an independent testing place to see if their product was good.
They have their own testing, yeah, you guessed it, in-house. In-house, they determine how efficacious their protection is. Even their in-house testing showed it to be half of what it needed to be. So they immediately investigated this. Why did this happen? And what they found was the earplug was too short. They couldn’t get it adequately into the canal in order to get good hearing protection. They also found that the third flange on the earplug laid back irregularly against the canal when inserted as a normal person would insert the earplug. Keep in mind, this is a hearing facility, a company that makes hearing devices doing their own testing and it still is not protective. So the design was so bad regarding length and this third flange, and how it folded down that they were getting half the protection they needed to get. Their investigation showed this in-house, behind closed doors. So what they did, is they tested again, those same subjects. They had him roll up the earplug a little bit differently and had him stick the third flange deeper in the ear, in a position that nobody did naturally. And what do you know, guess what their hearing test results showed then? 22 decibels of protection. So 3M had crossed the first step.
Now they needed to have this earplug actually be able to allow you to hear the lower tone voices, while it was shutting out those impulsing shock type waves that would come from, say, shooting a gun. So they had the other end of the earplug where if you turned it around, you put it in, you could hear the low voices. So they tested it. What did it show? It actually showed negative two decibels of protection. That’s right, negative. How do you get negative? The earplug, with its sound chamber, was actually acting as a hearing aid. Imagine putting a hearing aid into a normal ear, it was magnifying the sounds. You actually had negative protection on the side that was supposed to allow for voices. So we wonder why our VAs are spending over a billion dollars a year in hearing and related disorders. We wonder why, I believe it was 2010, $1.4 billion was spent on disability payments for hearing issues. We wonder why over half of our vets are coming back with hearing related problems, 3M, they knew this as they dispensed millions of pairs of earplugs with an exclusive contract of over 10 years. They knew their testing did not show protection. How did this come to the surface? It came to the surface because some of the 3M employees, they felt bad about what had happened.
They felt bad that our American soldiers were going out unprotected and they came forward, and they told the government. They said, “Hey, here’s what the testing showed, here’s the product we’ve really put forward.” The American government investigated it, 3M immediately admitted it, paid the government $9.1 million or $9.3 million, there was a settlement immediately to sweep this under the carpet and put it away. But what’s that do for you? What does that do for you, our American soldier, who’s been serving this country, who went out and you were given this device, and come back with hearing related problems? By the way, by device, it was never recalled, it means you haven’t been protected, it means you haven’t been taken care of. And that’s what Ramos Law is here to do. And that’s why we have this passion for this particular case against 3M. They knew what they were doing, their testing results showed it didn’t work. They went out and manipulated their own testing in-house to make it hit certain standards and they sold it, and you used it. And by the way, when they sold that earplug to the U.S. government, they didn’t tell them that it actually amplified on the voice version, they told them it was a noise reduction, ratio of zero was actually perfect. They had the perfect product. That’s what they sold.
So we’re here today to help our American soldiers who have hearing-related issues. If you have hearing loss, if you have balance problems, if you suffer from tinnitus, come to Ramos Law, speak with me. Let us have a chance to explain to you more about this situation and how we may be able to help. You don’t have to go on with this fearful of losing disability payments. This does not affect that, fearful of losing some status in military, it does not affect that, fearful of hurting your military, it does not affect that. This is simply 3M, a corporation who put greed, who put profits before people. At Ramos Law, I’m a medical doctor and I’m an attorney, and I understand the medicine behind this. I understand the grave disability of tinnitus. I understand what people suffer from. One of the leading causes of anxiety, depression, insomnia. Hearing centers blowing up everywhere, trying to help people who suffer from tinnitus or from hearing loss. Our goal is to get a fair recovery for people who’ve been unfairly put in this position and to help them go forward in the future. If you suffer from any of those things, you have a condition that’s not curable. It’s treatable, but not curable. We’re here to help you get a recovery so that you can treat yourself for the years to come and live the most quality life that you still have available to you.”