Florida Jury Awards $8.2 Million Against 3M in Bellwether Case Over Defective Combat Earplugs

Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC and co-counsel have secured an $8.2 million dollar jury verdict against 3M for a U.S. Army veteran who suffered tinnitus after using the company's defective combat earplugs.
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 11:58 AM EDT

HOUSTON, Oct. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, October 1, 2021, a federal jury in Pensacola, Florida determined that 3M Co. and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC are liable for a former service member's tinnitus and must pay over $8 million in damages. BCH secured the verdict with its co-counsel, Aylstock Witkin Kreis Overholtz of Pensacola, Florida, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and Ciresi Conlin, who served as lead trial counsel.

Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC Logo (PRNewsfoto/Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC)
Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC Logo (PRNewsfoto/Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC)

The award will compensate U.S. Army veteran Private Brandon Adkins for injuries he claimed were caused by 3M's failure to disclose defects that hampered the effectiveness of its earplugs – specifically that they were too short to provide adequate protection and were prone to coming loose without soldiers knowing it.

In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit with the DOJ that claimed the company violated the False Claims Act when it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the U.S. Military.

Adkins' case is the fourth test trial in mass tort litigation over 3M's Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2).

The first test trial, which resulted in a $7.1 million jury verdict against 3M in April, involved three plaintiffs selected individually by the defense, plaintiffs, and judge.

The subsequent two test trials, involving a plaintiff selected by the defense and a plaintiff selected by the MDL judge, respectively, were split – with the $1.7M in damages awarded to the third plaintiff being reduced by the jury's finding of comparative fault.

These "bellwether" trials, meant to gauge the strength of plaintiffs' claims and scope of damages for use in potential global settlement negotiations, now place additional pressure on 3M. That's especially so given that Adkins was a "defense pick" hand-selected by 3M for the perceived weakness of his claims.

In Adkins' case, the jury did not agree.

Currently, there are over 250,000 claims are pending in federal court and hundreds of claims in state court in Minnesota, where 3M is headquartered. Another bellwether trial is scheduled for next month.

Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC is a Houston-based Civil Trial Practice known nationally for its work in mass tort litigation and complex claims involving defective products, industrial accidents, and dangerous pharmaceuticals. Visit www.bchlaw.com for more information.

Media Contact:
Aaron Heckaman
aheckaman@bchlaw.com

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