Army Sergeant Wins $13M Damages In 3M Earplug Trial

A Florida federal jury held 3M liable for an Army sergeant’s hearing loss from faulty combat earplugs, awarding him more than $13 million — the largest amount so far — in the latest bellwether trial in military members’ mass litigation over the earplugs.

A Tallahassee jury awarded U.S. Army Sgt. Guillermo Camarillorazo $816,395 in compensatory damages and $12.245 million in punitive damages, marking it the largest win so far for one of the roughly 250,000 plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation over damage allegedly stemming from the CAEv2 earplugs made by Aearo Technologies LLC, a company that 3M acquired.

But the win for the plaintiffs came on the heels of a loss in another bellwether case, in which a jury in Pensacola found that 3M was not liable for the hearing loss of Joseph Palanki, who served in the Army and Army National Guard.

The verdicts are the sixth and seventh bellwether trials in the 3M earplugs MDL, with three more set before year’s end and six trials set for 2022. 3M insists that far fewer than the roughly 250,000 claims that have been filed will be found to have merit.

The cases contend that 3M and Aearo supplied CAEv2 earplugs that were defective and did not protect against service-related tinnitus and hearing loss. 3M argues that the military bears some responsibility for how the earplugs were designed and delivered.

In the five previous bellwether trials, the plaintiffs have notched wins in three, including a $7.1 million verdict in April in a three-plaintiff trial, a $1.7 million win in June, and another victory in October that ended in an $8.2 million award.

3M beat the claims in the second and fifth trials, which ended in defense verdicts.


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