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New 3M Combat Earplug Verdict Yields $2.2 Million for Veteran

April 29, 2022, 10:41 PM

A U.S. Army veteran alleging 3M Co. and its Aearo Technologies LLC subsidiary’s combat earplugs failed to protect his hearing won the 15th bellwether trial in the massive litigation, with a jury verdict of $2.2 million in federal court in Florida.

“It is clear 3M’s defenses—whether in the courts, to investors, or the public—are unconvincing and without merit,” said a joint statement from lead plaintiffs’ counsel in the federal multidistrict litigation and Douglas C. Monsour, who was veteran Jonathon Vaughn’s lead trial counsel.

The company, meanwhile, said it will appeal and that the judgment will be reduced under Colorado law to less than $700,000 plus interest. “We were prevented from presenting relevant evidence to the jury, and we will address that issue, among others, in our appeal of today’s verdict,” it said in a statement sent to Bloomberg Law.

Service members have prevailed in eight previous hearing-loss trials in the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, while 3M and Aearo have won six.

Judge M. Casey Rodgers, who oversees the MDL, has asked other judges to conduct some of the trials. Here, Judge Stephen D. Grimberg of the Northern District of Georgia oversaw Vaughn’s trial, held in Gainesville, Fla.

More than 290,000 cases are pending in the litigation, according to a report of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation. Many were filed in an “administrative” docket. Rodgers has begun ordering plaintiffs’ counsel to convert the MDL’s administratively filed cases to the active docket, 10,000 to 20,000 cases at a time.

Plaintiffs’ lead counsel in the multidistrict litigation are Clark, Love & Hutson PLLC; Seeger Weiss LLP; and Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC.

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

The case is Vaughn v. 3M Co., N.D. Fla., No. 7:20-cv-00134, verdict 4/29/22.

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