A retired U.S. Marine captain from Philadelphia filed suit Thursday against the 3M Company, claiming its defective earplugs were the direct cause of the total hearing loss in his right ear.
The lawsuit filed by Matthew Morrison in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia alleges fraudulent mispresentation by 3M Company.
The dual-ended Combat Arms™ earplugs were reportedly worn by millions of U.S. veterans during the decade-plus they were sold to the military.
Several similar lawsuits have been filed around the country, and last summer the U.S. Department of Justice and 3M reached to resolve allegations that it sold the earplugs without disclosing defects that hampered their effectiveness. Last week, a who served from 2003 to 2010 filed a federal lawsuit claiming his hearing was damaged by the earplugs.
The earplugs were reportedly discontinued in November 2015.
Morrison, 35, a graduate of Delaware Valley University, served in the Marines from 2007 to 2013, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. After retiring from the service, he spent two years as a United Way disaster case manager helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He is a facilities manager for a Philadelphia-based global business.
When he was honorably discharged in 2013, Morrison was diagnosed with hearing impairment. A later examination by an audiologist resulted in a diagnosis of total hearing loss in his right ear. He now detects only ringing in his right ear, a medical condition known as tinnitus.
According to the lawsuit, Morrison was involved with the use of heavy machine guns, mortars and rockets throughout his training and pre-deployment preparation. During those deployments, his basic training and statewide combat exercises, he continuously wore the 3M earplugs, as directed and required by the Marines, the suit claims.
The complaint alleges that 3M – the government‘s exclusive supplier of combat earplugs – made false representations with the intent of defrauding and deceiving Morrison and other service members.
It also claims the earplugs failed Morrison and other Marines because they “had a dangerous design defect that caused them to imperceptibly loosen in the wearer‘s ear, thus allowing damaging sounds to enter the ear canal around the outside of the earplug.”
The 3M Company provided the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“3M has great respect for the brave men and women who protect us around the world. We have a long history of serving the U.S. military, and we continue to sell products, including safety products, to help our troops and support their missions. We are not commenting on specific litigation matters at this time.”
Morrison is represented by the Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C. law firm of Center City Philadelphia.