3M Ear Plug Litigation-- April 2022 Latest Updates

August 12, 2022

Here is yet another update for the ongoing 3M Military Earplug Litigation. In our April 2022 update, we cover the most recent bellwether trials and how their outcomes may shape the rest of the litigation.

As previously reported in the Gavel, there are nearly 300,000 cases filed in the Administrative Docket covering military members' claims that they suffered tinnitus and hearing loss because 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 multi-district litigation (MDL), has ordered an acceleration of bellwether trials in an attempt to guide a massive global settlement. The litigation was initiated in part by a whistle-blower lawsuit against 3M alleging it supplied defective earplugs to the military in violation of the False Claims Act. In 2018, 3M paid theDepartment of Justice $9.1 million to settle the lawsuit. 3M denied and continues to deny any liability for the allegedly defective earplugs.

Eleven Bellwether Trials in Less Than One Year.

Plaintiffs have prevailed in six of the 11 federal court trials held since April of last year. Plaintiff awards include $13M, $7.1M and $8.2M and $1.7M. 3M beat previous claims in the second, fifth and sixth bellwether trials.

The jury in the latest bellwether trial, held last month in Florida federal court, awarded the two plaintiff service members $110 million in damages making it the largest verdict in the MDL thus far. The Pensacola, Florida federal jury awarded U.S. Army veterans William Wayman and Ronald Sloan each $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages for their hearing loss and tinnitus it determined was caused by their use of the service issued CAEv2 earplugs manufactured and distributed by 3M. According to their lawyers, Mr. Sloan and Mr. Wayman both used the earplugs during training and their deployments in Iraq andAfghanistan. Mr. Sloan served in the Army from 1994 to 2015, and Mr. Wayman served from 1997 to 2017.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys stated: "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. 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." Brian Aylstock, plaintiffs’ attorney commented: “While they are certainly pleased with the verdict and happy that the jury saw through the defenses that 3M tried to put forth, they have to go back to their lives living with these permanent conditions that simply will never go away and will only get worse.”

Although the plaintiff attorneys argued that this latest verdict was part of a"sustained track record" of juries rejecting 3M's defenses and returning awards of millions of dollars to each bellwether plaintiff, a spokesperson for 3M noted that this verdict came shortly after back-to-back verdicts in its favor. 3M also said it will appeal this most recent verdict.

Although the plaintiffs have scored more wins so far (6 to 5), it’s clear that the outcome of each case is largely determined by its individual facts and circumstances. However, with thousand of cases being certified as “trial-ready” each quarter, 3M needs to seriously consider a global settlement that fairly settles all claims for the suffering caused by these defective earplugs.

Five more trials are currently scheduled for later this year with the next held in Pensacola, Florida in March.

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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