A federal jury in Pensacola, Florida awarded $77.5 million to a U.S. Army veteran who alleges that he suffered hearing damage as a result of using military-issued earplugs that were sold by 3M.
The lawsuit was filed by James B., a soldier who alleges that he was exposed to loud noises from a variety of weapons from 2005 through 2009, and as a reservist until 2011.
Despite wearing 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2), he alleges that he suffered bilateral tinnitus (ringing in both ears) and noise-induced hearing loss.
CAEv2 earplugs were standard issue for all service members between 2003 and 2015.
3M is currently facing lawsuits from nearly 300,000 veterans who allege that the company knew the earplugs could fall out and fail to provide ear protection, yet continued to sell them to the military.
Veterans have won 10 out of the first 16 bellwether trials so far, with juries awarding nearly $300 million total. The award for $77.5 million is the largest verdict awarded to a single plaintiff in the litigation.
The lawsuits are centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida — In re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation.