3M has lost one more in a series of military earplug cases with a $22.5 million jury verdict in Florida in favor of Theodore Finley, who suffered from hearing loss while wearing the defective earplug products in combat and other scenarios.
According to a report in the Star Tribune, Finley, who served in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2014, alleged that he developed bilateral tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss while wearing the earplugs as he worked around weapon fire, generators, mechanized vehicles, helicopters, and during training and combat.
Defective Earplugs and Loss of Hearing
This was the eighth ruling in a series of bellwether trials against the company and the fifth where the plaintiff prevailed. These trials are part of what may be the largest U.S. mass tort ever, with more than 250,000 veterans and military personnel alleging they suffered hearing loss while using Combat Arms CAEv2 earplugs. The plaintiffs allege 3M knew the earplugs were faulty but failed to warn them of those problems. The company ceased sales of the earplugs in 2015 but has continued to tell consumers that the product is safe and effective.
The earplug lawsuits are part of multidistrict litigation used by federal courts in complex product liability matters with many separate claims of injuries that were similarly acquired. Bellwether trials serve the purpose of setting precedents and helping guide possible settlements. Two more bellwether trials are still pending against 3M. Monetary judgments against 3M so far total about $30 million. The jury in Florida, in the most recent case, awarded Finley $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $15 in punitive damages for a total of $22.5 million.
Holding Manufacturers Accountable
As product defect attorneys who represent the rights of victims who are injured by dangerous or defective products, we believe that punitive damages are justified in this case. That’s because 3M appears to have known that their earplugs were defective and yet, did nothing to warn service personnel that they may suffer serious and catastrophic consequences including tinnitus and permanent hearing loss because the earplugs may fail to block damaging noise during combat or other activities.
If you or a loved one has suffered hearing loss or other consequences as a result of these 3M earplugs, it is important that you contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights. Our law firm is committed to representing service personnel in these 3M earplug cases and will do everything in our power to make sure they receive maximum compensation for their losses.