3M Hammered With $110 Million Combat Earplug Verdict

Legal News

On Jan. 27, two U.S. Army veterans were awarded $110 million in damages by a federal jury in Florida, finding 3M liable for their hearing damage caused by defective Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2). 

The cases of veterans William Wayman and Ronald Sloan are the 11th bellwether (test) trial and marks the largest verdict in the nation’s largest mass tort in history, involving claims of nearly 300,000 servicemen. 

The jury in Pensacola awarded the vets $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages, according to Law360.com

After winning the previous two military earplug trials, 3M’s track record now stands at six losses and five wins. In total, 10 plaintiffs have won at trial. Wayman’s and Sloan’s was the second multi-plaintiff trial. The first bellwether trial was a consolidation of three cases. 

The previous largest plaintiff verdict in the 3M multidistrict litigation (MDL) was $22.5 million, awarded to veteran Theodore Finley on Dec. 10, 2021. 

Plaintiff verdicts in the 3M MDL also include damage awards of $13 million, $8.2 million, $1.7 million, and, in April 2021, in the first test trial that consolidated three vets’ cases, a jury returned a collective $7.1 million verdict. 

Five more 3M military earplug trials are scheduled for 2022. 3M maintains that the U.S. military is partly culpable for the soldiers’ hearing damage. In July 2020, a judge rejected 3M’s government contractor defense strategy, thereby stripping the conglomerate of its liability shield.


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