June 2022 3M Defective Military Ear Plug Lawsuit Update

August 12, 2022

Here is yet another update for the ongoing 3M Military Earplug Litigation. In our June 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 over 250,000 cases filed on the Active and Administrative Dockets 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 Multidistrict litigation (MDL), ordered an acceleration of bellwether trials in an attempt to guide a massive global settlement.

Latest and Final Bellwether Trial.  

Since the Gavel’s last update, the latest and final bellwether trial over allegedly defective 3M earplugs ended with a victory for military plaintiff James Beal. Just two weeks ago, a Florida federal jury awarded Beal $77.5 million in damages for his hearing loss allegedly caused by faulty 3M earplugs. According to a verdict form, the jury awarded him $5 million in compensatory damages and $72.5 million in punitive damages for his bilateral tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss. Beal’s complaint alleged that he was exposed to noise from a variety of weapons while in the Army between 2005 and 2009 and then as a reservist until 2011.

Beal’s case was the 10th plaintiff bellwether trial victory accounting for nearly $300 million in total plaintiff damages thus far. Beal’s verdict was the largest single award made to a plaintiff, beating out the $55 million verdicts awarded to two Army veterans in a prior January 2022 decision. These latter verdicts were recently reduced to $21.7 million by Judge Casey, citing statutory caps on punitive damages under Colorado law.

According to lead plaintiff counsel, Bryan Aylstock: “It is clear 3M's defenses — whether in the courts, to investors, or the public — are unconvincing and without merit.” Mr. Aylstock further stated: "3M cannot escape the fact that they are facing more than 200,000 claims from U.S. servicemembers after supplying them a defective earplug that caused irreversible hearing damage. . . .With more than 85% of plaintiffs transitioning their cases to the active docket, and juries entering verdicts in favor of two-thirds of servicemembers to go to trial to date, we are very much looking forward to the hundreds of cases the court is preparing the parties to try this year.

Counsel for 3M said in a statement on Friday that it planned to appeal, arguing that "as in previous bellwether trials, we were prevented from presenting crucial evidence to the jury, and we will address that issue, among others, in our appeal."

On May 6, 2002, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers dismissed approximately 20,000 plaintiff claims from the MDL for failure to submit proof of military service, giving those plaintiffs until June 6 to seek to reopen their cases.

Bellwether trials in an MDL are meant to set the stage for a possible settlement in large, complex cases like this one. With no sign of a settlement to resolve the more than 250,000 claims still pending against the company, and to keep pressure on for a potential global settlement, Judge Rodgers has also ordered parties to prepare nearly 1,000 cases to go to trial across the rest of 2022.

It's not too late

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