3M Agrees to Settle False Claims Complaint for Defective Earplugs for $9.1 Million

The Department of Justice announced on July 26, 2018, that 3M Company had agreed to pay $9.1 million pursuant to a False Claims Act initiated through the Acts’ qui tam, whistleblower, provisions. The False Claims Act was enacted during the administration of Abraham Lincoln. It authorizes claims against any person or company that tries to defraud the US government including the Department of Defense.

The person who initiates the claim, unless a case is started by the government, is called a relator. If the government obtains a recovery through the relator’s disclosure, the relator is entitled to a substantial percentage of the recovery. The amount of the award varies depending on whether the government decides to pursue the claim or leaves it to the relator to pursue the claim. The percentage allowed can range from 15-25 % if the government intervenes. The percentage is slightly higher if the relator pursues the claim without government intervention.

In the 3M case, the whistleblower was awarded $1,911,000 for the disclosure.

The 3M case

The whistleblower claimed that 3M, based in Minnesota, “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.”

The DOJ said that it is the duty of the government to make sure servicemen and women are protected – that contractors shouldn’t put company profit before military safety. The settlement helps show that law enforcement will hold companies liable if they provide products that are substandard and endanger the health and welfare of the members of the military.

The defect alleged was that 3M, and a predecessor company made earbuds that were “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. “

Speak with a premier whistleblower and FCA attorney today

At the law office of Stephen Danz & Associates, we have 30 years of experience fighting for whistleblowers. We help them prepare their claim, help them work with the government, and help them obtain their just reward. We also represent them when employers try to retaliate. To learn if you have a False Act Claim, contact us at (877)789-9707 to schedule an appointment. Se Habla Espanol.