3M Hit With $110M Verdict In Fla. Military Earplug Bellwether


 A Florida federal jury sided with two service members who say they suffered hearing damage from using 3M earplugs, awarding the men $110 million in damages, the largest verdict in the sprawling multidistrict litigation’s bellwether series to date.

The Pensacola federal jury awarded U.S. Army veterans William Wayman and Ronald Sloan each $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages after they experienced tinnitus and hearing loss allegedly stemming from 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs

Wayman and Sloan’s attorneys — Shelley Hutson of Clark Love, Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock Witkin, Michael Sacchet of Ciresi Conlin and David Buchanan of Seeger Weiss — told Law360that this is the largest verdict in the bellwether process to date in multidistrict litigation that includes nearly 300,000 service members who claim they suffered hearing damage after using the earplugs.

3M said it will appeal the verdict.

The win for the plaintiffs came on the heels of consecutive plaintiff losses last month in two other bellwether cases, in which Pensacola juries found that 3M was not liable for the hearing loss of U.S. Army veterans Carter Stelling and Carlos Montero.

The verdict also comes right after the now-second largest plaintiff win. On Dec. 10, a Tallahassee jury awarded former soldier Theodore Finley $22.5 million, including $15 million in punitive damages, for his hearing loss.

The plaintiffs have now prevailed in six of the 11 bellwether cases that have been tried so far. An Army sergeant convinced a jury of 3M’s liability in November and got a more than $13 million verdict.

Meanwhile, a three-plaintiff trial in April resulted in a $7.1 million award, an October trial ended with an $8.2 million award for an Army veteran, and a jury in June determined that 3M was mostly responsible for a machine gun operator’s hearing loss and awarded him $1.7 million.

3M beat previous claims in the second, fifth and sixth bellwether trials.

Five more trials are scheduled for this year.. In the cases, plaintiffs allege 3M and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC supplied CAEv2 earplugs that were defective and did not protect against service-related tinnitus and hearing loss. Meanwhile, 3M argues that the military bears some responsibility for how the earplugs were designed and delivered.

LAW360: https://www.law360.com/articles/1459588/3m-hit-with-110m-verdict-in-fla-military-earplug-bellwether

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