Texas veteran sues 3M over allegedly defective earplugs

January 23, 2019 - 7:19 am

A Texas veteran is suing 3M Company over allegedly defective earplugs that were issued to U.S. soldiers for a decade.

Sgt. Scott D. Rowe, who was previously stationed at Fort Hood, has filed suit in a Waco-based U.S. District Court, his attorneys said. The lawsuit claims that 3M knowingly designed, made and sold improperly working earplugs, causing Rowe tinnitus, hearing loss and poor balance.

Houston attorneys Mo Aziz and Andrew Cobos are holding a news conference about the lawsuit at noon.

The suit alleges that 3M was aware of issues with the earplugs, called “dual-ended Combat Arms,” when it sold them to U.S. military bases and service members in Texas between 2003 and 2012.

The earplugs were originally developed by Aearo Technologies, which was acquired by 3M in 2008, according to news reports. Rowe and his attorneys claim that 3M was still aware of the defect as early as 2000, before the acquisition and before the company began providing the earplugs to the military.

RELATED: 3M: $9m fine for allegedly selling faulty ear plugs to the military

The earplug stem is too short, according to the lawsuit, making it difficult for people to insert the plugs too deeply in the ear canal. The defect causes the earplug to loosen in the ear, allowing sounds to enter the ear canal around the plug.

Despite knowing about the defect, soldiers weren’t warned or instructed on how to wear the earplugs to lessen the effects, Rowe’s lawsuit claims.

Rowe is suing for an unspecified amount of damages, including the cost of past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, physical impairment, mental anguish and loss of wages and earning capacity.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, demands a jury trial.

3M Company previously agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle allegations it knowingly sold the earplugs to the military without notifying them of any defects, the U.S. Department of Justice said in July 2018.

Rowe was previously stationed at Fort Hood and Fort Lewis, Wash., and was deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the lawsuit.

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