3M Loses Its First Trial Over Military Earplugs: Federal Jury Awards $7.1 Million to Three Veterans
In Florida, the company is defending itself against claims that it sold faulty goods to more than 200,000 service members and veterans.
Three service personnel who claimed that their hearing was harmed as a result of using faulty 3M earplugs have been paid punitive damages totaling more than $2 million each.
According to the former military members, 3M and a predecessor, Aearo LLC, supplied earplugs called CAEv2 designed for battle weapons.
The distinctive yellow-and-green plugs, which were commonly used by the US Army and other branches, were designed to block noise when inserted in one direction completely.
At the same time, it allows surrounding voices while shielding the ear from dangerous ballistic noises when inserted in the opposite direction.
They did, however, say that after using the headphones, they’ve developed severe problems such as hearing loss and tinnitus.
In what is known as 3M Earplugs CAEv2 Multidistrict Litigation, the cases have been consolidated before a federal district judge in Florida.
The number of people suing over earplugs outnumbers those suing over any other product or medication, including weedkiller, baby powder, and blood thinners.
The earplugs were not faulty, according to 3M, a Minnesota-based company that manufactures everything from N95 face masks to tape.
Its architecture incorporated features demanded by the military, and the US government was in charge of not only developing the items but also educating soldiers on how to use them, according to the company.
After hearing Plaintiffs Stephen Hacker, Luke Estes, and Lewis Keefer’s allegations of experiencing irreversible hearing damage after using 3M earplugs during combat or combat training, a Florida federal jury awarded them a total of $7.1 million on Friday.
In addition to awarding the former army members $2.1 million each in punitive damages, the jury also awarded Hacker $160,000 in pain and distress damages. The 20-year Army veteran began developing bilateral tinnitus in 2006.
The jury awarded an additional $350,500 in medical expenses, missed wages, and pain and suffering to Estes, a former tank platoon leader at Fort Benning in Georgia who experienced hearing loss and developed ringing in both ears in 2014.
Another $320,000 in medical bills, missed wages, and pain and suffering were awarded to Lewis Keefer, an Army medic who began to lose his hearing after using the earplugs in Iraq, at Fort Benning and in the line of service.
Other Updates on Cases Against 3M
This is the latest in a long line of cases involving 3M’s faulty earplugs. In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle charges that it defrauded the government by selling battle weapons earplugs although they were defective.
According to Law360, the first three claims of as many as 240,000 totals in the multidistrict legislation were presented to a jury in this trial.
It reportedly began on March 29. Two more reports of soldiers whose hearing was impaired both in training and during an IED explosion in Afghanistan will be heard in the next two months.
On Friday, the 3M Company attempted three times to get a mistrial declared. Last time, they did it again just 20 minutes after the court dismissed its previous appeal. Judge M. Casey Rodgers rejected each petition.
The business has argued that the military should be held accountable for the earplugs’ design flaws, which resulted in hearing loss. 3M’s lawyers told Law360 on Friday that they believe there are many grounds for appeal.
Editor’s Note on 3M Earplugs MDL Settlement:
This article is published to inform you of the latest news about the military’s lawsuit against 3M and their defective military CAEv2 earplugs.
Case Name & No.: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 3:19-md-02885, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
Products/Services: 3M’s Military-Grade Earplugs CAEv2
Allegations: 3M allegedly produces defective military earplugs, which caused serious hearing problems to military personnel
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