Military

3M defective earplugs litigation update

November 1, 2021

A Florida federal jury awarded U.S. Army veteran Brandon Atkins $8.2 million in the fourth bellwether trial in the massive 3m defective military earplugs litigation.

In the fourth and most recent bellwether trial in the massive 3M earplugs multidistrict litigation (MDL), a Florida federal jury returned an $8.2 million verdict against 3M. The plaintiff is US Army veteran Brandon Adkins, a 35-year-old Tacoma, Washington resident who served in the Army from 2004 to 2009, including two tours in Afghanistan, who now suffers from hearing loss and tinnitus. This latest win gives plaintiffs a 3 -1 record against 3M thus far.  In the previous trials, the plaintiffs obtained a $7.1 million verdict for three servicemen in April and a $1.7 million verdict for a single plaintiff in June. 3M was cleared of liability in a May trial involving a plaintiffs chosen by the defense to proceed to trial.  The plaintiff in this matter was found to have suffered hearing loss from an IED explosion and not as a result of the faulty 3M earplugs.

As previously reported in the Gavel, there are over 250,000 cases filed on the Administrative Docket covering military members' claims that they suffered hearing loss as a result of defects in the design of 3M’s military-issue earplugs, making it the largest mass tort ever brought in federal court. Judge Casey Rodgers, the Federal Court Judge in charge of the MDL, has ordered an acceleration of bellwether trials in an attempt to guide a massive global settlement. One trial is proceeding as of this writing with five more scheduled before the end of the year.  

In a statement announcing the latest verdict, lead counsel for Mr. Adkins stated:

"We are humbled by the bravery and courage shown by servicemembers like Brandon Adkins not only for their service to our country, but also for standing up against 3M on behalf of all the veterans who now face preventable hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of the CAEv2 earplugs. Three juries have now found 3M at fault and allowed our servicemembers to suffer these life-altering injuries. We plan to hold 3M fully accountable for the damage they have caused to those who served our nation."

In a statement on its website, 3M said it disagreed with the outcome and pledged to keep fighting the claims. "We do not believe the plaintiff met his burden of proving his allegations, and we are evaluating our legal options," the company said.  

The jury disagreed and found in his favor strict liability claims for design defect and for failure to warn and/or instruct, as well as claims for negligent failure to warn and/or instruct after manufacture, fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. The jurors found 3M to be 100% liable, according to the plaintiffs. Judge Casey further commented that there was "ample record evidence" that could lead a reasonable jury to find that the defendants affirmatively misrepresented information to the military, which passed it along to its personnel.

It's not too late

If you or a loved one were a U.S. military service member, veteran or contractor between 2003 and 2015 who was diagnosed with partial or total hearing loss or suffer from tinnitus, you may have a claim against 3M for substantial compensation without ever going to court. Complete the intake form HERE for a free, no-obligation review of your case.

Feel free to share this with any friends or family who may have been affected as well – we’re here to help. If you do not receive a recovery through a lawsuit or settlement, you don’t owe us anything.

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