Navy veteran sues 3M over allegedly defective earplug

By Gabriel Neves | Feb 25, 2019


KANSAS CITY — A Navy veteran who worked as a missile technician is suing manufacturer 3M for problems caused by a defective earplug used in combat.

Brian Winters filed a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on Feb. 19 against the Minnesota-based industrial conglomerate, alleging that using a faulty pair of 3M earplugs in combat caused him to suffer several injuries, including hearing loss.

According to the complaint, Winters "was provided 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs while in the service of the United States Army," and "the 3M Combat Arms earplugs have dangerous defects that can cause them to loosen in the wearer's ear."

Winters also alleged in the complaint that 3M submitted false certifications to the Army.

"Based on its facially invalid test results, Aearo [original makers of the earplugs] falsely reported to the U.S. military that the yellow end of its Combat Arms earplugs had a 0 NRR, which would allow servicemen to freely communicate with their fellow servicemen and avoid any impairment to hear enemy combatants," the complaint said.

3M continued to sell the earplugs until 2015, when it was discontinued.

Winters sued for counts of negligence, failure to warn, and design defect. He is seeking damages in excess of $75,000, plus costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and a jury trial.

Winters is being represented by attorneys Jeffrey M.  Kuntz, Thomas P. Cartmell, Tom Rottinghaus, and Diane K. Watkins of Wagstaff & Cartmell of Kansas City, and by Clayton A. Clark, Scott A. Love, W. Michael Moreland of Clark, Love & Hutson of Houston.

No judge has been assigned to the case yet.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri Case number 4:19-cv-00120-RK

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