Defense Base Act Articles
3M Earplug Hearing Loss & the Defense Base Act
Much has been made in the media – and TV commercials – about American soldiers’ who have suffered tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing loss after using ineffective Combat Arms Earplugs manufactured by 3M. And, currently, hundreds of hearing loss lawsuits have been filled on behalf of thousands of troops who were issued these defective ear plugs.
But, what about military defense contractors working on bases overseas who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus? In this article the experienced Defense Base Act attorneys at Cantrell Green discuss the implications of service-related hearing issues for civilians working abroad under contract by the United States government.
The 3M Earplug Cases
Millions of American military service members and civilian contractors were deployed abroad between 2002 and 2015 as party of the global ‘War on Terror.’
Defective dual-ended military earplugs were manufactured by U.S. government contractor 3M Corp., that sold the defective ear protection device to the Defense Logistics Agency during that time period. The Federal Department of Defense then issued these 3M dual-ended combat earplugs as standard issue personal protection to military members between 2007 and 2013.
In May 2021, after a five-week trial, a Federal Court jury awarded three service members 7.1 million in compensation for the hearing loss sustained due to the defective 3M earplugs. ($830,500 in compensatory damages and $2.1 million in punitive damages for each plaintiff). However, subsequently on May 28, 2021, a second trial found that 3m was NOT responsible to pay damages to service members for hearing loss.
Then in June 2021, a third trial in a district court in Florida issued a $1.7 million jury verdict to a soldier who developed tinnitus after using 3M earplugs. The jury determined that 3M was guilty of failing to provide sufficient warnings.
The lawsuits focused on the fact that 3M “knew or should have known” that the earplugs that they sold to the military were defective and provided inadequate hearing protection. Currently, more than 3,000 more lawsuits have been filed and are pending against 3M. And international news service Reuters has reported that more than one million veterans have filed for disability related to complications from various types of hearing loss and deafness.
Civilian Contractors and 3M Earplug Cases
Currently only a few civilian contractor cases are also pending against 3M for hearing damage due to the same defective earplugs. As of June 2021, the attorneys for these lawsuits were still just arguing over whether the cases belonged in Federal Court (like the military cases) – or should be removed to State Courts.
Those cases involved a civilian tree trimmer and two military contractors who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan as a driver and a canine handler.
The results of those cases are far from over – and exceedingly complex issues are being raised by both sides. The attorneys at Cantrell Green will continue to monitor the out come of these, and related #M cases.
To become involved in one of these lawsuits, at a minimum, potential plaintiffs need to have:
- a diagnosis from a doctor of tinnitus and/or hearing loss at or around the time of discharge of overseas service
- civilian contractor service between 2003 and 2015
- proof of use of the military issued 3M dual sided earplugs
- proof of exposure to combat-level loud noises during contractor service.
Defense Base Act Compensation for 3M Earplug and ALL Hearing Loss Cases
Fortunately, while the battle lines are still being drawn in civil suits for 3M liability, compensation for ANY tinnitus or hearing loss caused during military contractor service IS covered by the Defense Base Act DBA.
Many civilian workers overseas have been subjected to high noise levels on the job, which over time can be a significant factor in hearing loss. Excessive noise levels on military bases and facilities handling military aircraft and other heavy military vehicles are a constant issue.
Fortunately, hearing loss is considered a compensable injury under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, as extended by the Defense Base Act (Section 8(c)(13)). And, as with all DBA cases, it does not matter if the hearing loss was directly related and/or who was “at fault”.
To learn more about Defense Base Act cases for hearing loss CLICK HERE.
Best Defense Base Act Attorneys
Our highly specialized Defense Base Act attorneys are committed to ensuring that every injured or disabled civilian employee obtains the benefits he or she has earned. We have successfully filed hundreds of Defense Base Act applications and appeals – obtaining millions of dollars in DBA benefits in over four decades of legal service.
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Our highly specialized Defense Base Act attorneys have successfully filed hundreds of Defense Base Act applications and appeals – obtaining millions of dollars in DBA benefits in our four decades of legal service.
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