3M Bellwether Trial
Over 230,000 lawsuits have been filed against 3M Company for alleged design defects in the 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs. Service members and veterans allege they sustained injuries after using the product, including permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. The cases have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Florida.
The discovery phase is complete in the MDL. Therefore, test cases or “bellwether” trials have started in the 3M earplug litigation. The results of the bellwether trials are critical for future settlement negotiations and trials.
The First 3M Bellwether Trial
The first bellwether trial was held in Sarasota, FL. The plaintiffs in the case were three former servicemen. After a lengthy trial, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The jury awarded a total of $7.1 million in damages.
3M plaintiffs were pleased with the result of the first bellwether case. The amount the jury awarded was higher than expected, including a sizable amount for punitive damages.
Most damages seek to compensate the victim for losses after an injury. Punitive damages are different. Juries award punitive damages to “punish” a defendant for gross negligence and wanton, willful disregard for the safety of others.
Each of the plaintiffs received $2 million in punitive damages; the jury sent a clear message to the defendants that the defendants’ conduct was inexcusable.
The Second 3M Bellwether Trial
The second bellwether trial in the 3M cases began on May 17, 2021, in Sarasota. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, the jurors ruled in favor of the 3M Company. 3M Company claims that the Combat Arms Earplugs have always been effective and safe to use.
The next bellwether trial was scheduled to begin on June 7, 2021. Both sides will be anxiously waiting for the decision.
Because the cases are combined in an MDL instead of a class-action lawsuit, each case remains separate. The cases are heard individually by different juries.
The plaintiffs in each case have the burden of proving the required legal elements using the evidence in the case. Therefore, the decisions by jurors may be based on unique facts in the case. Also, different jurors may interpret evidence somewhat differently from case to case.
Why Are Veterans and Military Service Members Suing 3M Company?
Military members allege that a defect in the design of the combat earplugs resulted in injuries.
The earplugs are designed with two components. It allows the person to hear people talking and other sounds necessary to protect themselves and perform their duties. However, the earplugs are supposed to block out the harmful noise that can cause hearing loss and other injuries.
According to the allegations in the 3M complaints, members experienced combat-related hearing loss, tinnitus, and injuries while using the earplugs.
Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ears
- Hearing a buzzing sound
- Speech and sounds that are muffled
- Hypersensitivity to some sounds
- Having a full sensation in the ears
- Trouble understanding speech
- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
The 3M earplug injuries from the alleged defective earplugs have been debilitating for some veterans and service members. Permanent hearing impairments can harm a person’s quality of life and job prospects.
The plaintiffs in each 3M case deserve to be compensated for their injuries and damages.
Damages that may be associated with injuries caused by defective earplugs include:
- The medical expenses related to diagnosing the injuries and treating the hearing loss, tinnitus, or other injuries
- The physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the victim
- Decreases in a person’s quality of life or enjoyment of life
- The impact on a person’s future career choices and earning capacity
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- The cost of hearing aids and other medical equipment
- Loss of wages, salaries, benefits, and other forms of income
The value of a 3M Company earplug injury claim depends on the case. Each person’s experience is different. Some plaintiffs may have higher medical costs and loss of income, while other plaintiffs may have sustained permanent impairments or hearing loss.
What Should You Do If You Wore Combat Earplugs by 3M?
If you have sustained hearing loss or other injuries after using 3M combat earplugs, contact a 3M earplug lawsuit attorney immediately. Your time to file a claim is limited. Failing to file your claim before the deadline expires could result in losing your right to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for your damages.