A U.S. Army veteran who successfully sued 3M over hearing damages caused by its allegedly faulty military earplugs had his award reduced to just under $21.7 million by a federal judge on May 24.
William Wayman was initially awarded $55 million by a jury in January, with $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages. Wayman’s case was also tried with another U.S. Army veteran who had similar claims. Ronald Sloan was also awarded $55 million, making the $110 million award the largest plaintiff verdict in the nation’s largest mass tort in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in U.S. history.
Nearly 300,000 individuals, mostly former U.S. military members, have filed hearing damage claims over the 3M Corporation’s Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 or CAEv2. Out of sixteen test cases (bellwether trials), juries have found 3M partly or fully liable in 10 trials. Juries have cleared 3M of liability in six trials. Including Sloan and Wayman, 13 plaintiffs have been awarded $300 million in damages.
Wayman’s award was reduced by the judge—Casey Rogers—who is overseeing the 3M earplug MDL, which is being adjudicated in the Northern District of Florida. Rogers reduced Wayman’s award because Colorado law applies to Wayman’s claims and has caps on certain damages.
Wayman and Sloan’s cases were the 11th bellwether trial and at the time marked the largest plaintiff awards. Even with Wayman’s reduced award, the decision still stands as the second-highest verdict, eclipsed only by the 16th and final bellwether trial that will be adjudicated in the first round of claims. In that decision, James Beal was awarded over $77 million in damages.
3M, according to Law360.com, also has a pending motion to reduce Sloan’s award.