More Verdicts from the 3m Earplug Lawsuit
Earlier this week a Florida Federal jury awarded $8 million in damages to a serviceman who suffered hearing loss while using 3M earplugs during his tour in Afghanistan. They ruled that 3M Company misrepresented information about its earplugs, designed by its subsidiary Aearo Technologies.
This ruling is a part of a string of bellwether lawsuits against the diversified technology company. In April of 2021, three veterans were awarded $7.1 million. Several months later in October of 2021, a jury awarded an injured U.S. veteran $8.2 million. Soon after, a jury in Pensacola awarded $50 million to a former Army howitzer gunner.
3M and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies, faced over 2,000 more lawsuits which were consolidated in multidistrict litigation in a Florida federal court. In these lawsuits multiple soldiers and veterans accuse 3M of knowingly committing fraud against the U.S. military. They claimed to have lost hearing due to 3M’s product, and argued that 3M failed to warn the military and soldiers of the earplugs’ defects, as well as falsified earplug test results.
In total, there have been 13 bellwether trials. So far, the plaintiffs have won eight, while 3M has successfully defended and won five. The largest verdict awarded, $110 million in January, was to service members William Wayman and Ronald Sloan. Sloan first noticed his alleged hearing loss in 2005 while deployed in Iraq, but didn’t file suit until 2020. The jury awarded each serviceman $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages.
The Product Involved
The main product involved in these lawsuits are the CAEv2 earplugs. On 3M’s website they state that, “The CAEv2 product represents a significant innovation in hearing protection. It was the first earplug product to offer protection from loud sounds – like gunfire – while maintaining the ability to hear softer sounds – like speech – with limited interruption.”
From 2003 to 2015, Aearo Technologies. and 3M supplied the United States military with these dual-ended earplugs. During this time, they were standard issue for most combat soldiers.
Know a Veteran Who was Affected?
Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common causes of service-related disability among veterans, and these earplugs were supposed to fill an urgent need to combat that. It is believed that the design defects may have caused damage to the hairs and nerves of the inner ear.
More than 1.16 million veterans received disability compensation for hearing loss in 2017, and about 1.79 million received compensation for tinnitus, according to the Hearing Health Foundation.
As of now, 3M faces roughly 300,000 claims nationwide and our law firm is right in the mix of this pressing litigation. Like other product liability cases, we know how important it is to protect the men and women who help defend our nation. If you or someone you know believe they may have been affected by these earplugs, do not hesitate to contact us for help. All cases reviews from our office are free of charge.