On April 30, a Florida federal jury handed down a $7.1M verdict against 3M in the first bellwether trial involving thousands of Military members’ claims against the company for hearing loss.
It is the first step in securing monetary compensation for at least 240,000 Veterans who have suffered significant damage to their hearing as a result of 3M’s defective combat earplugs, called CAEv2.
The Pensacola jury awarded $2.1 million in punitive damages to the following three plaintiffs:
- Stephan Hacker, a 20-year Army vet who experienced bilateral tinnitus in 2006.
- Luke Estes, a former Tank Platoon Leader who began losing hearing and developed ringing in both ears in 2014.
- Lewis Keefer, an Army medic who is gradually losing his hearing. Keefer used the earplugs at a stateside duty station, as well as while serving in the line of duty in Iraq.
In addition to punitive damages, the jury awarded Hacker an additional $160,000 for pain and suffering, Estes an additional $250,500 for medical costs, lost earnings and pain and suffering, and Keefer an additional $320,000 in medical costs, lost earnings and pain suffering.
More 3M Earplug Bellwether Trials to Come
The trial started March 29 and the three cases were brought before the jury. There are two more trials slated to begin over the next couple of weeks.
On May 17, the trial for Dustin McCombs is expected to start. McCombs suffered tinnitus following an IED blast in Afghanistan in April 2009. His condition worsened when he was stationed at Fort Richardson in Alaska.
On June 17, the trial for Lloyd Baker is slated to begin. Baker got tinnitus from urban warfare training at Fort Lewis in Washington state between 2005 and 2006. Part of his position was to operate a 160-decibel M240 machine gun.
How has 3M Responded to the First Earplug Bellwether Verdict?
During the trial, 3M argued that the military bears responsibility for the way the earplugs were designed. The company went on to say that it sees “multiple grounds for appeal.”
We’ve got your six.
If you or someone you know is dealing with hearing loss from using defective 3M earplugs in a foreign conflict, contact VLAP to find out who we trust.