3M Handed $58 Million Verdict in Earplug Litigation

Libby Vish, Esq. | VP, Business Development


On Friday, March 25, 2022, federal juries awarded $58 million to two army veterans holding 3M liable for hearing loss from defective earplugs used in training and combat. In Pensacola, FL, U.S. Army veteran Luke Vilsmeyer was awarded $50 million. Several hours later, in Tallahassee, FL, U.S. Army National Guard veteran Steven Wilkerson was awarded $8 million in compensatory damages.

Vilsmeyer’s award is the second largest award of the litigation and is all attributed to compensatory damages. He served in the army for 21 years. His roles included a howitzer gunner and a Green Beret. Similarly, Wilkerson said his time in training and in combat led to his hearing loss and the development of tinnitus.

The trials were held in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Claims against 3M are consolidated there in a Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”). There are more than 272,000 cases pending against 3M from veterans and service members. Those plaintiffs claim that 3M’s earplugs were defectively designed. They allege that the defective design prevented the earplugs from providing protection to servicemembers and that this failure led to tinnitus and/or hearing loss.

There have now been 13 bellwether trials. Plaintiffs have won eight of the bellwether trials. 3M has claimed five defense verdicts in the bellwether trials. These were the second and third trials in 2022 for the 3M Earplug litigation.

The 14th trial began on Monday, March 28, 2022.

The MDL is In re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:19-md-02885, in the same court.

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