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3M to Appeal $110 Million Verdict in Latest Combat Earplug Trial

Jan. 28, 2022, 2:35 PM

3M Co. says it plans to appeal a Florida federal court jury’s $110 million award to two veterans in the 11th test trial over combat earplugs that service members say were defective and caused hearing loss.

Army veterans William Wayman and Ronald Sloan each were awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages Thursday. Theirs is the largest verdict in the bellwether process to date.

Each side had previously won five of the last 10 trials over 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs, bringing the new tally to six for the plaintiffs and five for 3M and its Aearo Technologies LLC subsidiary.

“Juries continue to find that 3M’s earplugs were defective and that they are responsible for causing irreparable hearing damage to those who served our country,” plaintiffs’ lead counsel said in a statement.

Nine service members have now obtained verdicts totaling more than $160 million, they said.

3M said in a statement that “the overall mixed record in the bellwether process thus far shows that plaintiffs face significant challenges in this litigation and each case must be considered on its own facts and circumstances.”

Saying it will appeal the verdicts, the company added, “Consolidating multiple plaintiffs’ cases into one jury trial can confuse jurors, ultimately affecting outcomes.”

Nearly 300,000 suits are pending in multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Five more test trials are planned for this year.

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 the plaintiffs at trial.

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

The cases are Sloan v. 3M Co., N.D. Fla., No. 20-001, verdict 1/27/22 and Wayman v. 3M Co., N.D. Fla., No. 20-149, verdict 1/27/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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