3M Earplug Litigation Update: Verdict Awarded To Former US Service Member

Updated December 15, 2021.

Lacy Katzen LLP is no longer accepting new referrals in the 3M Combat Ear Plugs Litigation

On April 30, 2021 a Florida jury in the first bellwether trial to be held in the 3M earplugs multi-district litigation, awarded $7.1 million to three former service members who claimed the company’s earplugs were defective and caused hearing loss and damage.

On December 10, 2021, a Florida federal jury returned the largest verdict to date of $22.5 million to an Army veteran who alleged the earplugs caused him to suffer tinnitus and hearing loss. Theodore Finley used the earplugs while serving from 2006 to 2014. He was awarded $7.5 million in compensatory damages and 15 million in punitive damages.

The trial was the eighth “Bellwether Trial” concerning the Combat Earplugs, Version 2, commonly called the CAEv2 that were supplied to the military from 2003-2015. The earplugs were distributed to service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, five of the juries have returned verdicts in favor of the claimants with the other three returning verdicts in favor of 3m. There are more trials scheduled in the coming months.

What is a Bellwether Trial and Why Are the Results Important to Other Claimants?

Cases involving consumer products are newsworthy because they affect so many people. Similar claims concerning use of products are often combined by the courts into multidistrict litigation (MDL) for purposes of organization and judicial economy.

Bellwether trials are test trials that act as a predictor for future cases. If most juries decide in favor of the claimants, it is a good indication that future juries will do the same. By the same token, if most juries decide in favor of the manufacturer, it indicates the claims may be weak.  These trends may help the parties decide they wish to try to settle the claims out of court.

While the outcome of the Bellwether trial is only binding upon the parties involved, the predictive value of the verdict often increases the chance that future claims will be settled. This helps relieve the caseload upon the court system and may help claimants to resolve their individual claims faster.

The MDL for the 3M Earplugs currently has more than 240,000 claims. However, according to 2015 government data, more than 1 million veterans currently receive compensation for hearing loss. Hearing loss is the leading service-related disability. Many service members are probably unaware that they may have a claim.

In 1950 Lacy Katzen LLP was founded by two World War II veterans, Herb Lacy and Leon Katzen. Built upon a foundation of hard work, service and love of country, Lacy Katzen LLP stands behind the men and women of America’s military. It saddens us that our military personnel may have been harmed by a manufacturer who allegedly knew of the problems with its defective product.

If you or a loved one have suffered from hearing loss or tinnitus that you believe is as a result of the 3M earplugs, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Lacy Katzen LLP for a free case evaluation.


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