A Florida federal jury sided with a service member who says he suffered hearing damage from using 3M earplugs, awarding him $22.5 million in damages, the largest verdict in the sprawling multidistrict litigation’s bellwether series to date, according to attorneys for the plaintiff.
The Tallahassee jury found that 3M’s earplugs were defective and that the company was responsible for causing hearing damage to Theodore Finley, who used the earplugs while in the U.S. Army. The jury awarded Finley $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages.
The verdict came in the eighth bellwether trial in the MDL over CAEv2 earplugs made by Aearo Technologies LLC, a company that 3M acquired. More than 250,000 service members and other individuals are included in the litigation.
Finley served in the Army from October 2006 to May 2014 and used the earplugs underlying the dispute as his primary earplugs during that time. While wearing them, Finley said he was exposed to noise from a variety of weapons as well as from generators, mechanized vehicles, helicopters and airplanes.
He told the court he suffers from bilateral tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss.