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3M Owes Army Veteran $50 Million to Compensate for Hearing Loss

March 25, 2022, 10:17 PM

A $50 million jury verdict against 3M Co.—the largest compensatory damages award to date in bellwether trials over the company’s combat earplugs—came down in favor of a U.S. Army veteran Friday in a federal court in Florida.

Luke Vilsmeyer’s was the 12th test trial in the massive consolidated litigation over subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC’s Combat Arms version 2 earplugs in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Jury verdicts now stand at seven for service members and five for 3M, which has an appeal pending on key issues.

Attorneys for the the service members said the juries so far “have awarded more than $200 million in damages to U.S. servicemembers and veterans, determining that 3M knowingly sold defective earplugs that resulted in life-altering injuries.”

“It is clear 3M’s defenses—whether in the courts, to investors, or the public—are unconvincing and without merit,” lead plaintiffs’ counsel said in an emailed statement.

The judge overseeing the litigation “has ordered parties to prepare nearly 1,000 cases for trial this year, and considering how juries have responded in these cases, we look forward to trying them across the country to fully hold 3M accountable for the damage they have caused to those who served our nation,” the attorneys said.

The statement came from Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC; Shelley Hutson of Clark, Love & Hutson; and Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP.

3M said in a statement, “We are disappointed with today’s verdict and will appeal. The same issues raised in our earlier appeals relating to legal defenses and evidentiary rulings apply in this trial.”

“We remain confident in our case and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously in the remaining trials,” it said.

The case is Vilsmeyer v. 3M Co., N.D. Fla., No. 7:20-cv-00113, verdict 3/25/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at mbarash@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com