A federal jury in Tallahassee awarded an Army sergeant $13 million in a federal lawsuit against 3M in which thousands of plaintiffs claim that defective earplugs caused their severe and permanent hearing loss.
According to a news report, the federal jury agreed in at least one case finding 3M 100% responsible for the hearing loss suffered by Sgt. Guillermo Camarillo.
The damages awarded to the 47-year-old Camarillo – $816,000 in compensatory damages and $12.25 million in punitive damages – are the largest payout so far against 3M in the largest tort claim in the country. About 250,000 veterans and military personnel have filed lawsuits claiming that the company’s CAEv2 combat earplugs were defective and caused hearing loss and/or tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
One lawsuit against 3M alleges that the manufacturer supplied defective earplugs to the U.S. military and caused hearing damage to more than 140,000 service members, veterans, and civilians. The Minnesota-based 3M has maintained that its standard-issue military earplugs, which it stopped selling in 2015, are safe. In 2018, 3M agreed to pay the government $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold the defective earplugs to the military without disclosing serious design effects.
That settlement money, however, went to the government and not individual service members or veterans. Thousands who have been affected by these defective products have therefore filed individual lawsuits against 3M alleging the earplugs caused them to suffer hearing loss and ringing in their ears.
The most recent case is among a series of bellwether trials, which are often used to resolve cases involving multiple plaintiffs. So far, plaintiffs have prevailed in four out of seven bellwether cases relating to these defective earplugs and so far, $30 million has been paid out in damages. More trials have been scheduled in the coming months.
Product Liability Issues
In this particular case, the jury reached a verdict that 3M defectively designed and manufactured a product that caused service members to suffer permanent hearing loss because of the damage to their ears caused by the loud noise in combat – the harmful noise these earplugs were supposed to block. In such cases, victims may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, permanent injuries, disabilities, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
If you or a loved one has been affected by these 3M earplugs or other defective products, please contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights. Our law firm is taking on these cases. We are honored to fight for our veterans and service members who fought and continue to fight to preserve our freedoms.