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3M Bellwether Trial Updates

Author
Alicia Betz
June 27, 2021

Three trials surrounding the defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 have come to a close. These trials may help shape the outcome of over 200,000 other pending lawsuits against 3M for their allegedly defective earplugs.

 

What the 3M Case is About

The 3M Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 that were provided to service members are alleged to have caused hearing problems because they did not create a proper seal to block out loud noises. On one end, the earplugs were supposed to block out all noises. On the other end, the earplugs were supposed to block out loud noises while allowing quiet noises through. 

Allegedly, 3M knew that the earplugs required a specific modification to properly block out loud noises. If the modification was not used, the earplugs would slip out of place and would not create a proper seal. The veterans who were affected were never informed about the modification. 

To date, over 200,000 veterans have filed lawsuits against 3M. Those affected argue that 3M knew the earplugs were defective and failed to warn consumers.

3m lawsuite

 

3M Case Updates

Currently three bellwether trials are underway. These trials will help both the plaintiffs and defendants for the remaining trials gain an understanding of how juries respond to the claims. 

After a five-week trial, 3M lost the first case, and was ordered to pay $7.1 million in total to three veterans who used the earplugs. These veterans claim that the earplugs caused hearing loss and tinnitus. 3M was found guilty of not providing a proper warning about the defects. 

According to the plaintiffs, “The evidence is clear: 3M knew their earplugs were defective, yet they allowed our service members to suffer these life-altering injuries.”

The company plans to appeal, claiming that the plaintiffs were not able to adequately prove that the product was defective or negligently designed. 3M won the second trial; this is their first win in the ongoing lawsuits. The veteran in this trial claimed that the earplugs caused tinnitus. One of his roles was to train other soldiers to use heavy machine guns. He first noticed his tinnitus in 2009. 

After the second trial, a spokesperson for 3M said, “We are pleased with today’s verdict and will continue to vigorously defend ourselves in upcoming trials.”

In the third trial, 3M again lost. The veteran in this trial was awarded $1.7 million. He claims that the earplugs caused his tinnitus and hearing loss. In this third case, the jury found 3M only partially liable. They declared that the company is 62% liable. They found the veteran himself, Lloyd Baker, to be 38% liable.

Future of 3M Trials

Now that these three bellwether trials have come to a close, the remaining 200,000+ plaintiffs have a better understanding of how their trials might unfold. 3M also has a sense of what the results of the trials might be, which may lead to a settlement. 

These lawsuits, which have been consolidated into a mass tort case, make up one of the largest mass torts ever. 

We will continue to provide updates as this case continues to unfold.

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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