Tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women who suffered permanent hearing loss after using military-provided earplugs have filed suit against 3M and their subsidiary Aearo Technologies, accusing them of designing a defective product and covering up damaging tests, and now evidence has been submitted showing company employees joking about the huge profit margins earned on the product. Recently released deposition testimony also revealed company employees displaying a shocking lack of empathy for those harmed by their product.
The federal lawsuits filed against 3M have been joined by roughly 140,000 individual servicemembers who have suffered hearing loss. The sit centers on combat-grade earplugs that the company sold to the military. The company has defended the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplug (CAEv2) and claimed both immunities to prosecution because they designed the product to military standards, and also attempted to absolve themselves by saying that the defect in the product was “clearly communicated” to the military.
Unsealed Documents Reveal 3M Joking About Profit Margins for Defective Combat Earplugs
As the 3M combat earplug case proceeds documents are being unsealed and revealed to the public. Among the papers released was one showing a company representative laughing about the astonishing profit margin that the company was earning from its contract with the Defense Department. In an email message, a marketing manager described the difference between the cost and selling price with the editorial comment “LOL,” which stands for Laughing Out Loud. Other revelations included interviews with executives indicating their dismissive attitude about victims harmed when their products did not properly fit or provide the protections promised.
While the earplugs were shown to have reduced noise by as little as 10 percent of what was advertised, the company continues to say they should not be held responsible for the subsequent hearing loss because the product met the military’s specifications. The company denies withholding relevant information from the government, which flies in the face of their internal testing results. Officials of the company also testified that they did not think that soldiers were entitled to know that the earplug testing was not relevant to the way that the product was actually used.