Attorney J.P. Sawyer was featured in a Southeast Sun article titled, “’ Standard issue’ military earplugs deemed faulty” on Tuesday, May 14. He discussed how the use of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) resulted in hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance issues among military service members between 2003 and 2015.
“If you deployed between those years there was a very good chance you got a set of these earplugs,” Attorney Sawyer said in the article. “So we’re talking thousands, if not millions, of people affected by this.”
The two-sided earplugs were designed to block out extremely loud noises such as gunfire and explosions while allowing the user to hear soft sounds like commands. However, the earplugs were too short to properly fit inside the ear, causing them to gradually loosen during use and making them ineffective.
Attorney Sawyer is one of the attorneys in the area who is helping veterans who have been issued these earplugs during military service and experienced hearing problems. He claims that 3M received poor results from initial testing and decided to manipulate how the earplugs were inserted to complete the test to meet government standards.
In July 2016, 3M was ordered to pay the U.S. Department of Justice a $9.1 million settlement after being accused of knowingly selling defective earplugs to the military without disclosing the defects that decreased hearing protection.
“This went on for 15 years and 3M never told the government,” He said, shaking his head. “This is one of the worst cases I’ve seen just blatantly putting somebody at risk when you have the knowledge to tell them how to correct it.”
The Southeast Sun is an Enterprise/Coffee County newspaper that was created in 1982.