On Oct. 1, a federal jury determined that an Army veteran’s damaged hearing was caused because of 3M’s defective Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2). The case of plaintiff Brandon Atkins of Washington State was the fourth bellwether trial in the massive 3M multidistrict litigation (MDL), which involves approximately 250,000 veterans who allege that their hearing loss or tinnitus was caused by a design flaw in the CAEv2 earplugs and that 3M knew about the defect but failed to alert the government.
Atkins’ win marks the third loss for 3M in the early test cases. Thus far, 3M has not indicated that it would settle future earplug lawsuits even as thousands more cases were recently ordered to the docket for active scheduling.
According to Stars And Stripes, Atkins, who suffers from hearing loss and bilateral tinnitus (a phantom ringing in both ears), was awarded $8.2 million in the trial. The 3M MDL cases are the largest mass tort litigation in the U.S. The MDL litigation is presided over by Judge Casey Rogers in the Northern District of Florida.
Five more 3M earplug cases are scheduled for trial before the end of the year, with the next one slated for Oct. 18. In the first 3M earplug MDL trial, a jury found the company liable for three veterans’ hearing damages and awarded them $7.1 million, collectively. After a jury cleared 3M of liability in one veterans’ case in the second trial, a jury ruled that the company was partially liable for a veteran’s hearing loss in the third trial and awarded the vet $1 million.
The dual-sided CAEv2 earplugs were originally created by Aearo Technologies, another named defendant, which 3M acquired in 2008. 3M supplied the U.S. military with CAEv2 until 2015.
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