3M Handed $110M Verdict In Latest Military Earplug Bellwether

A Florida federal jury awarded two U.S. Army veterans $110 million for their hearing injuries suffered while using 3M earplugs in the 11th trial in a series of multidistrict litigation bellwether cases against 3M.

3MPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

William Wayman and Ronald Sloan were each awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and an additional $40 million in punitive damages after they experienced hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of using 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs.

Wayman and Sloan’s attorneys said the verdict is part of a “sustained track record” of juries rejecting 3M’s defenses and returning awards of millions of dollars to bellwether plaintiffs.

“We thank William Wayman and Ronald Sloan for their bravery, service and advocacy on behalf of all veterans who now face preventable hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of defective CAEv2 earplugs,” the legal team for the pair said. “Juries continue to find that 3M’s earplugs were defective and that they are responsible for causing irreparable hearing damage to those who served our country.”

In their statement, 3M said the verdict was a disappointment and the conglomerate plans to appeal.

“While we are disappointed with the verdicts, the overall mixed record in the bellwether process thus far shows that plaintiffs face significant challenges in this litigation and each case must be considered on its own facts and circumstances,” 3M stated.

“3M’s conduct with respect to the CAEv2 product was consistent with the company’s values and longtime commitment to keeping our U.S. military safe,” the company added. “We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously throughout this litigation.”

Plaintiffs have come away victorious in 6 of the 11 bellwether trials to this point, with 3M paying out other service members over $30 million.

3M defeated claims in the second, fifth and sixth bellwether trials.

A total of five more trials are scheduled before the end of the year, with each plaintiff alleging 3M’s subsidiary Aearo Technologies supplied defective CAEv2 earplugs that did not protect against service-related tinnitus and hearing loss. 3M argues that the military bears partial responsibility for how the earplugs were designed and delivered.

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