3M Hit With $22.5 Million Verdict in Earplug Test Case

Dec 15, 2021

Dec. 13, 2021

A federal jury in Florida has awarded the highest amount to date against 3M Co. among bellwether trials over allegedly ineffective combat earplugs, concluding the company owes an Army veteran $22.5 million for his hearing loss and tinnitus.

Theodore Finley’s award consists of $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages, according to his counsel.

Finley’s trial was the eighth in the massive consolidated litigation against 3M and its Aearo Technologies LLC subsidiary over Aearo Combat Arms version 2 earplugs.

“Juries continue to find that 3M’s earplugs were defective and that they are responsible for causing irreparable hearing damage to those who served our country,” said a statement from the servicemembers’ counsel, Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC; Clark, Love & Hutson GP; and Seeger Weiss LLP.

“This is also the second jury in a row that found beyond a reasonable doubt that 3M’s conduct was reprehensible and deserving of severe punishment,” they said in an emailed statement Dec. 10, immediately after the verdict.

3M said in a statement emailed Monday that while it is disappointed in the verdict, “we are only halfway through the bellwether process.”

“Juries differ, each case must be proved on its individual facts, and our successes thus far illustrate the heavy burden plaintiffs must meet in proving the elements of their claims,” the company said. “We remain confident that the CAEv2 product was safe and effective to use and will continue to defend ourselves throughout this litigation.”

Six individual trials and a consolidated trial of three veterans’ claims preceded Finley’s. They resulted in plaintiffs’ verdicts for six service members totaling about $30 million, while 3M’s defense succeeded in three of the trials.

Chief Judge Mark E. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida oversaw Finley’s trial.

Monsour Law Firm, Gibbs Law Group, and the Thomas J. Henry firm also represented Finley.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Moore, Hill & Westmoreland PA; and Dechert LLP represented the defendants.

The case is Finley v. 3M Co., N.D. Fla., No. 7:20-cv-00170, verdict 12/10/21.(Corrects name of presiding judge and adds plaintiff’s counsel’s firm in paragraphs nine and 10 of Dec. 13 story.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at [email protected]; Patrick L. Gregory at [email protected]

Source: Bloomberg Law