An ex-Royal Marine has won £713,716 after taking the Ministry of Defence to court over poor-quality earplugs that contributed to hearing loss.
While in service, James Barry, 34, had been issued with “yellow foamies” and over-the-ear defenders to use for sound protection during firing exercises.
However, the equipment was inadequate to protect Barry’s hearing and he developed hearing loss and chronic tinnitus.
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The diagnosis meant that he had to be discharged in 2017 and was unable to join the Special Boat Service like he had intended. Barry now works as a lorry driver.
In evidence, Barry described the foamies as “pretty useless in terms of the environments they had to be used in.”
The Ministry of Defence accepted primary liability but claimed Barry was also at fault due to failing to properly use the hearing protection as the earplugs would fall out of the soldier’s ears.
However Mr Justice Johnson rules in favour of Barry.
Johnson said: “The MoD has not established that it was Mr Barry’s fault that the ear plugs fell out. Mr Barry was far from alone in finding that his earplugs fell out.
“Hearing protection was available, it was just that it was inadequate and incompatible with other equipment.
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“Lamentably, it appears that nothing was done by the MoD to address the obvious and serious problem.”
From the £700,000 compensation sum, £600,000 was given to Barry in recognition of the loss of earnings and pension he’d incurred as a result of not being able to join the Special Boat Service.
The rest of the money was awarded to Barry to compensate for other damages including the cost of hearing aids, loss of amenities, and payments for pain.
Johnson also said: “It is to the enormous credit of Mr Barry and his step-father that, until very recently, he has been in continuous employment since his military discharge and has thereby been able to continue to provide for and support his family.
"He gains little satisfaction from his employment. By contrast, he found military life exciting, fulfilling and rewarding."
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