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3M Gets $55 Million Combat Earplug Verdict Cut to $21.7 Million

May 25, 2022, 4:10 PM

Colorado law requires a reduction in damages awarded to an Army veteran in a suit over allegedly ineffective 3M Co. combat earplugs, leaving him with a $21.7 million recovery rather than the $55 million awarded by the jury, a federal court in Florida ruled.

William Wayman’s hearing loss and tinnitus are particularly severe, affecting his relationships and confidence—and justifying a higher ceiling on the pain-and-suffering portion of damages, Judge M. Casey Rodgers said Tuesday for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

But he’s not entitled to double the amount of those damages because of the presence of a second defendant, 3M subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC, in the suit, Rodgers said.

Wayman can get treble damages under a Colorado consumer-protection law or punitive damages, but not both, Rodgers said. Given a state punitive damages cap, he does better receiving total compensation of three times his actual damages, including compensatory damages and prejudgment interest, she said.

His actual damages consist of $5 million in physical impairment damages, $936,030 in noneconomic damages, and $1,296,391.46 in prejudgment interest, she said. Final judgment will be for $21,697,264.38, she said.

Plaintiffs’ lead counsel in the multidistrict litigation are Clark, Love & Hutson GP; Seeger Weiss LLP; and Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC. Those firms and Ciresi Conlin LLP represented Wayman and another veteran at trial.

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

The case is Wayman v. 3M Co., N.D. Fla., No. 7:20-cv-00149, 5/24/22.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com