MoD did "nothing" to address serious problem of Marine awarded £700,000+ for hearing damage caused during training
- Published on 09 March 2023
London's High Court has awarded former Royal Marine, James Barry, over £700,000 in compensation for hearing damage suffered during "exposure to noise during service" between 2013 and 2017.
The soldier said his noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus was due to not having proper training or suitable protection. While the Ministry of Defence claimed "contributory negligence", that claim was rejected. The judge in the case, Mr. Justice Johnson declared: "Lamentably, it appears that nothing was done by the MoD to address the obvious and serious problem.".
Although foam ear inserts were provided during Mr. Barry's training, a written submission claimed these were inadequate and unsuitable to use because they fell out and did not provide situational awareness.
MoD sent Marine for training despite recognising hearing problems
The High Court heard how the MoD had acknowledged the soldier's hearing problems after tests, yet continued to send him on exercises and expose him to noise unprotected.
Thirty-four-year-old Barry was downgraded by the Royal Marines in 2015 and forced to leave in 2017 because of his hearing problems.
MoD alleged ear plugs not used properly
The MoD accepted "primary liability" for Mr. Barry's hearing damage, and stated that it prioritises the health and wellbeing of its personnel, affirming that it notes the High Court outcome and will consider the judgment. Nevertheless, in its defence, the MoD claimed that Mr. Barry had not used the provided ear plugs properly.
Cases of hearing loss in armed forces personnel
This latest UK case can be added to a growing number of lawsuits brought against defence institutions for hearing damage occurring during service. In the United States, the biggest recent case involving military employees is ongoing but brought against US multinational 3M, the manufacturers of the hearing protection supplied for military situations. Such rulings and compensation awards could potentially bring a flood of cases by employees of the armed forces.