A Florida federal jury cleared 3M of liability in the latest bellwether trial in military members’ mass litigation over hearing loss, allegedly from faulty combat earplugs, giving the company its second win in five trials.
The Pensacola jury found 3M isn’t responsible for the injuries of Michelle Blum, the first female service member to have her claims heard by a jury in the roughly 250,000-plaintiff multidistrict litigation over damage allegedly stemming from the CAEv2 earplugs made by a company 3M acquired, Aearo.
Three more trials are set before year’s end in the rapid-fire spate of bellwethers,
Blum, 51, entered the military in 1989, and was serving in the Army in South Korea in 2003 when she began using the CAEv2s. After a period of years she began experiencing a ringing in the ears and her Army audiograms showed hearing loss.
She also had a separate congenital hearing condition; however, the plaintiffs told the jury this affected a different frequency range from the frequencies affected by the earplugs’ lack of protection.
Of the four prior trials, the plaintiffs won the first, a three-plaintiff trial, with a $7.1 million verdict in April; they lost the second, in May; and they won the third, in June, and the fourth, ending Oct. 1, with verdicts of $1.7 million and $8.2 million, respectively.
Six trials are also set for 2022. 3M insists that far fewer than the roughly 250,000 filed claims will eventually be found to have merit.