3M pays $9.1 million over defective earplugs

by Ben Vernia | July 27th, 2018

On July 26, the Department of Justice announced that Minnesota-based 3M Companyhad agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle a whistleblower’s allegations that the company provided defective earplugs under contracts to the Department of Defense. According to DOJ’s press release:

The Department of Justice announced today that 3M Company (3M), headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, has agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold the dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to the United States military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device.

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The settlement announced today resolves allegations that 3M violated the False Claims Act by selling or causing to be sold defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency.  Specifically, the United States alleged that 3M, and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, Inc., knew the CAEv2 was too short for proper insertion into users’ ears and that the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly and therefore did not perform well for certain individuals.  The United States further alleged that 3M did not disclose this design defect to the military.

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The Government announced that the whistleblower, a former 3M employee, will receive $1.911 million (a 21% relator’s share).

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