Military

3M military earplugs litigation update

December 3, 2021

Plaintiffs have prevailed in five of the previous seven bellwether trials, including a $7.1 million verdict in April in a three-plaintiff trial — mostly punitive damages, a $1.7 million win in June, and another victory in October that ended in an $8.2 million award. 3M beat the claims in the second and fifth trials, which ended in defense verdicts.

After seven bellwether trials in what is perhaps the largest U.S. mass tort ever, plaintiffs have now won four of the seven bellwether cases with monetary damages totaling $30 million. Three juries have rejected all claims against 3M. Three more bellwether trials are scheduled for later this year and six trials are currently set for 2022.

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 because of defects in the design of 3M’s military-issue earplugs. 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.

Since the Gavel’s last update, the latest two trials over allegedly defective 3M earplugs ended with one victory for military plaintiffs and one for the Maplewood, Minnesota-based company:

1. Guillermo Camarillorazo. The jury in Tallahassee awarded the 47-year-old U.S. Army sergeant $13 million in damages for hearing loss and tinnitus associated with his use of 3M earplugs — the largest jury award so far. He was awarded $816,395 in compensatory damages and $12.2 million in punitive damages. Camarillorazo, an active-duty soldier, joined the Army in 2001 and has been deployed multiple times in Iraq andAfghanistan.

The Camarillorazo jury "found beyond a reasonable doubt that the company engaged in intentional, punitive conduct," plaintiffs' attorneys said in a press statement. "Sergeant Guillermo [Camarillorazo] is now the sixth servicemember who has successfully held 3M accountable for putting profits over the safety of those who served our nation. Lead plaintiffs' attorney Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC said in a statement: "A majority of juries have rejected 3M's defenses, and in this case found beyond a reasonable doubt that the company engaged in intentional, punitive conduct. We look forward to the trials scheduled over the coming months as we continue to ensure that 3M is held fully accountable."

In a statement issued Monday, 3M said that "Juries differ, and each case must be tried on its individual facts... We disagree with the damages awarded. At all times 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. We will appeal this award, including non-compensatory damages, as we continue to vigorously defend our record in these matters."

2. Joseph Palanki. The jury in Pensacola rejected Palanki’s claims that his hearing loss and tinnitus were caused by 3M earplugs. Mr. Palanki, 50, retired from the military in 2020 after serving in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard.

The "verdict in the Palanki case is an important demonstration that jurors agree 3M's CAEv2 product was safe and effective to use," 3M said in a statement. "This result, along with previous outcomes, supports our position in this and future litigation on this matter."

Seven Trials So Far

Plaintiffs have prevailed in five of the previous seven bellwether trials, including a $7.1 million verdict in April in a three-plaintiff trial — mostly punitive damages, a $1.7 million win in June, and another victory in October that ended in an $8.2 million award. 3M beat the claims in the second and fifth trials, which ended in defense verdicts.

It's not too late

If you or a loved one were a U.S. military servicemember, 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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