A Florida federal jury awarded $50 million to a service member claiming he suffered hearing loss as a result of faulty earplugs made by 3M, the latest verdict in sprawling multidistrict litigation against the company, according to a statement from the plaintiff’s attorneys.
The jury reached its verdict against 3M on the 10th day of a trial that kicked off March 1. It’s the 12th bellwether trial and the second-largest verdict so far in the MDL, which includes more than 280,000 service members and others alleging hearing damage as a result of using 3M’s CAEv2 earplug.
Plaintiff Luke Vilsmeyer claimed that he suffered permanent hearing loss after using the earplugs for more than a decade, mostly during training.
Lead plaintiffs counsel Bryan Aylstock, Shelley Hutson and Christopher Seeger said in a joint statement that seven juries have now awarded more than $200 million in damages to service members and veterans, and that U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers, the Florida federal judge overseeing the MDL, has ordered parties in the litigation to prepare nearly 1,000 cases for trial this year.
The MDL was created in April 2019 and includes cases brought by hundreds of thousands of military veterans and service members. The cases allege that 3M and subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC supplied CAEv2 earplugs that were defective. Meanwhile, 3M argues the military bears some responsibility for how the earplugs were designed and delivered.
Plaintiffs have prevailed in seven of the 12 bellwether cases that have been tried so far, while 3M has beaten the claims in five of them. The largest verdict awarded $110 million to service members William Wayman and Ronald Sloan in January.
In December, Pensacola juries found that 3M was not liable for the hearing loss of U.S. Army veterans Carter Stelling and Carlos Montero.
In February, Judge Rodgers ordered a wave of 500 cases to be prepared to go to trial, which brought the total number of cases to 1,000. She has previously ordered that the cases be sped up, pointing to an “unprecedented backlog” of more than 250,000 cases.