In the late 1990s, the U.S. military requested earplugs to offer protection from high-level impulse noises – like gunfire – while still allowing the user to hear lower-level sounds – like speech – with limited interruption. To meet this need, Aearo, a predecessor company of 3M, developed the early prototypes of the CAEv2 product alongside the U.S. military, incorporating the instructions and specifications the military had developed based on its own testing and the logistical needs of its troops. The military was closely involved in the product’s design, specifications and testing, and it approved the CAEv2 product after many rounds of successful testing by both the military and Aearo.
The CAEv2 product met all the specifications requested and required by the U.S. military. One specification requested by the military was to shorten the length of the CAEv2 product to improve the performance of the earplugs. Testing later showed that rolling back the flanges improved the fit for some soldiers. This issue was communicated to the military, which was responsible for instructing service members on the proper fitting and use of the CAEv2 product. Testing by the military, 3M and Aearo confirmed that the CAEv2 product met the specifications to decrease noise at every frequency with or without the flanges folded back and rolling the flanges back did not decrease the product’s effectiveness.
In July 2018, 3M chose to settle claims brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) about the CAEv2 product to avoid the time and expense of litigation. In doing so, the company did not admit any wrongdoing.
Since the settlement with the DOJ, numerous lawsuits have been filed on behalf of veterans and others alleging that the CAEv2 product was defective and caused various injuries. Most cases have been transferred to Multi-District Litigation (“MDL”) proceedings before Judge Casey Rodgers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. We deny this product was defectively designed and caused injuries, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against such allegations.
No recall was ever issued for the CAEv2 product because it was not defectively designed. The product, along with the later-designed CAEv4 product that is currently issued to the U.S. military, is effective and safe to use.