On Thursday, January 27, 2022 a federal jury awarded $110 million to two army veterans, holding 3M liable for hearing loss caused by defective earplugs used in combat. U.S. Army Soldiers Ronald Sloan and William Wayman were each awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million each in punitive damages.
This surpasses the highest verdict to date, $22 million which was awarded in December to U.S. Army Soldier Theodore Finley who served for eight years. In between the aforementioned verdicts, 3M had two trials ruled in its favor.
The trial was 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 against 3M from veterans and servicemembers. Plaintiffs similarly claim that 3M’s earplugs were defectively designed. They allege that the defective design prevented the earplugs from providing adequate protection to servicemembers and that this failure led to tinnitus and/or hearing loss.
There have now been eleven bellwether trials. Plaintiffs have won six of the bellwether trials. 3M has claimed five defense verdicts in the bellwether trials. This was the first trial for 2022 for the 3M Earplug litigation. Five more trials are set for 2022.
The individual cases are William Wayman v. 3M Co. et al., case number 7:20-cv-00149, and Ronald Sloan v. 3M Co. et al., case number 7:20-cv-00001, both in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
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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