The 3M Earplug Controversy
Have you heard of the scandal around 3M hearing protection earplugs? Apparently, for over a decade the company “3M” manufactured earplugs to protect the hearing of service members from damage. Events like explosions, gunshots, or other background noise that comes being deployed in a risky situation can damage your hearing in the long AND short term.
Well, 3M promised to manufacture earplugs that fit directly into service members’ ears and provided adequate protection. Like I said, for over a decade these earplugs were manufactured and administered to those serving our country at home and abroad.
The scandal, of course, comes from the fact that the earplugs were never properly designed or correctly manufactured. I think that scams or frauds are not okay in any conditions. However, perpetuating fraud at the cost of the health and safety of military members has to be more despicable than anything I can imagine.
Some side effects from improper hearing safety protections include tinnitus, loss of general hearing, loss of hearing specific frequencies or ranges, a feeling of pressure in your ear canal(s), loss of balance, and so many more related to auditory and balance systems.
Because the flawed products were only recently discovered, it is likely that service members experienced these negative medical side effects without knowing their cause. Without that information, it is also possible that medical care to address these issues was harder to attain. Isn’t that ridiculous?
These people have given themselves and their safety over in the name of national security and public service. The idea that they had to use faulty protections infuriates me. Thankfully, multiple lawsuits have been filed against the 3M company responsible for manufacturing the earplugs.
I think the aim of any litigation in a situation like this ought to not only be to recoup victims’ losses (as best as you can, since hearing is difficult to regain even through the most expensive of medical procedures) but also to make sure the company faces justice to the point where they learn to not scam service members in the future. I know some law firms like ChasenBoscolo represent victims not only to receive compensation for their pain and suffering but also to hold the company accountable.
One of the things discovered about this particular scandal was that efficacy tests were altered and messed with in order to conceal that the earplugs did not function as promised. I hope that any litigation or investigation into this will also disincentivize obviously criminal behavior like that.
I have to imagine that though 3M is a big company, a lawsuit like this is fairly straight forward. Often, records for mishaps like concealing product defects are kept in company files that can then be handed over in the discovery process of a lawsuit. It is likely similarly easy to access the medical records for the damages done to service members using the faulty earplugs.
I’m not a legal expert nor a lawyer, but this issue seems to be pretty black and white. Hopefully, with the right legal counsel and the right strategy, all companies including 3M can be accountable for their dishonesty and negligence.