Two experts for 3M barred from testifying in defective military earplugs litigation

August 12, 2022

Industrial hygienists Dr. Richard Neitzel and Jennifer Sahmel, two experts for the 3M Company, have been barred from testifying about the U.S. Army’s hearing program in the sprawling defective military earplugs litigation. U.S. District judge M. Casey Rodgers, the federal judge presiding over the litigation, found that their testimony was based on speculation and that neither provided explanation as to how their experiences supported their opinions. “Accordingly, Dr. Neitzel’s and Sahmel’s opinions in this regard are speculative, unreliable, and mere conduits for hearsay,” (1) Judge Rodgers added.  

Judge Rodgers also sided with service members who argued that Dr. Neitzel should be barred from offering an opinion regarding 3M’s labeling requirements as set forth in the Noise Control Act, as he is neither a lawyer nor a labeling expert. “Unlike other experts in this litigation, Dr. Neitzel is not an ENT, physician, or audiologist with the necessary qualifications to opine on the completeness and accuracy of the CAEv2 label and warnings from a clinical perspective,” (2) the judge said.

3M's dual-ended CAEv2 Earplugs

The first bellwether trial is scheduled to start today, which consolidates the cases of plaintiffs Luke and Jennifer Estes, Lewis Keefer, and Stephen Hacker (3). The cases were selected out of over 220,000 others involving service members and veterans who allege that 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms military earplugs were defective and didn’t come with adequate warnings, causing hearing loss and/or tinnitus.  Juror questionnaires for the first bellwether trial have already been sent out. Judge Rodgers set additional trial dates for plaintiffs Dustin McCombs and Lloyd baker for May 17 and June 7, respectively.

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 also 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 of 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.


  2. Ibid

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