A federal jury in Florida has awarded $110 million in damages to two service members who said they suffered hearing damage from using defective 3M earplugs – the largest verdict in the multidistrict litigation’s bellwether series to date. According to a Law360 report, the jury in Pensacola 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 from using 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs.
Plaintiffs’ Successes in Bellwether Trials
Law360 reports that 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 or hearing loss after using these faulty earplugs. 3M has continued to maintain they will defend the product liability lawsuits and that they would appeal this most recent verdict.
This win is also significant because it comes on the heels of consecutive plaintiff losses last month in two other bellwether cases in which juries in Pensacola found that 3M was not liable for the hearing loss suffered by U.S. Army veterans Carter Stelling and Carlos Montero. Bellwether cases are “test” cases in large mass tort litigation that involves hundreds if not thousands of plaintiffs bringing similar product liability claims against one entity.
Thursday’s verdict also comes right after another plaintiff win on Dec. 10 when a Tallahassee jury awarded former soldier Theodore Finley $22.5 million including $15 million in punitive damages for his hearing loss. Plaintiffs have now prevailed in six out of 11 bellwether cases tried so far. Five more trials are scheduled for this year. In those cases, plaintiffs allege 3M and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC supplied the defective earplugs that did not protect service members against tinnitus and hearing loss.
Product Liability Issues
When a product is defectively designed or defectively manufactured or does not work as intended, the manufacturer and/or distributor of the products can be held liable for the injuries, damages, and losses caused. In these cases, service members who have sacrificed everything for their country have suffered hearing damage including permanent hearing loss because of the damage to their ears caused by the loud noise in combat. The earplugs clearly failed to protect them as they were supposed to.
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.