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Verdicts & Settlements

Army Veteran Wins $50m Verdict Against 3M

— March 29, 2022

The former Army soldier claimed that 3M’s notorious Combat Arms Earplugs caused permanent hearing damage.

An Army veteran who filed a lawsuit against 3M for issuing faulty earplugs to active duty servicepeople has been awarded $50 million in damages.

According to The Hill, a jury awarded former Army soldier Luke Vilsmeyer an estimated $50 million—among the largest verdicts won by a veteran against 3M.

As has reported before, 3M is facing thousands of lawsuits from former and current servicepeople.

Most of the claims relate to 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2.0.

The earplugs, say some veterans, contained design deficiencies that could cause permanent hearing loss and impairment. While 3M was allegedly aware that its products might be unsafe, it never issued a recall.

Although 3M did eventually pull its Combat Arms Earplugs, the company insists that the product was safe for use.

However, attorneys for soldiers say that a wave of judgments against the company shows that 3M’s protests are unwarranted.

Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

“Eight juries have awarded more than $200 million in damages to U.S. service members and veterans, determining that 3M knowingly sold defective earplugs that resulted in life-altering injuries,” Vilsmeyer’s attorneys said in a statement. “It is clear that 3M’s defenses—whether in the courts, to investors, or the public—are unconvincing and without merit.”

3M said that it plans to appeal the ruling.

“We are disappointed with the recent verdicts, and will appeal,” the company said. “The same issues raised in our earlier appeals relating to legal defense and evidentiary rulings apply in this trial.”

“We remain confident,” 3M added, “in our case and will continue to defend our product and our record at trial and on appeal.”

The Star Tribune notes that over 280,000 military earplug claims are pending against 3M.

Of those 280,000 claims, an estimated 42,000 are active and pending trial.

The lawsuits, says the Star Tribune, have been grouped together in a multidistrict litigation case in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Florida.

Multidistrict litigation cases—often referred to as MDLs—are used to condense complex product liability cases with many individual plaintiffs.

According to the Star Tribune, MDLs are influenced by so-called “bellwether trials,” which can influence the resolution of future claims. An additional three bellwether trials are scheduled through May.

Earlier this year, a federal jury awarded $110 million to two other U.S. Army veterans who claimed they suffered permanent hearing damage after using Combat Arms Earplugs.

The award, as reported, was the largest delivered against 3M to date.


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