Two Marine veterans are claiming the 3M company owes them for loss of hearing they have suffered due to defective earplugs manufactured by the 3M Company and sold to the U.S military for more than a decade. Last summer the U.S. Department of Justice and 3M reached a $9.1 million settlement over the defective dual ended combat earplugs. Now, 3M is facing civil suits across the country for selling the defective earplugs. Some predict that thousands of suits will soon be filed.
One such lawsuit has already been filed in Nashville’s Federal Court by Goodlettsville attorney Tim Bowden on behalf of Christopher Wade Phillips and Eric Wayne Lewis. Both Phillips and Lewis served in the U.S. Marines on overseas combat deployments during which time they were issued and used the defective 3M combat earplugs. Both claim to have suffered substantial hearing loss as the result of their use of the defective 3M combat earplugs.
Phillips joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001 at age 18. He was deployed to Iraq and Kuwait in 2003 and served until he was medically discharged in 2004 with a forty percent hearing loss.
Lewis also joined the Marine Corps at the age of 18, in 2002. Lewis served combat deployments to Iraq in 2005 to 2006, and two deployments to Afghanistan, one in 2011 to 2012 and again in 2013. He left the Marine Corps in 2014.
Bowden tells the Tennessee Star that there are hundreds of thousands of airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines with similar injuries and the possibility to recover compensation for their damages. “Due to the widespread damage caused to our military personnel by 3M’s actions, cases like this are just the tip of the iceberg of lawsuits that will be filed to hold 3M accountable,” Bowden said.
The lawsuit alleges that 3M employees knew about the earplug defects as early as 2000, yet continued to provide them to U.S. military personnel like Lewis and Phillips for use through 2015 or later. The plaintiffs have asked for a jury to hear their lawsuit, which seeks to recover both actual and punitive damages from 3M.
“It is shocking that 3M would intentionally provide defective equipment to our brave and selfless service members, knowing that they would rely on that defective equipment in combat,” Bowden noted. “Their fraud has resulted in lifelong injuries to America’s warriors, including our clients, and 3M’s actions should have serious consequences.”
The earplugs were sold to the military by 3M until 2015 when they discontinued the product. However, the defective earplugs were not recalled and thus may still be in use by soldiers and sold by other vendors, according to Bowden.
Bowden pointed out that his Firm has established a website, www.militaryhearinglawsuit.com, for those seeking to determine if they may have a case against 3M as well.
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Photo “3M” by Dwight Burdette. CC BY 3.0.