A Florida jury last month awarded a record $13 million in damages to an active-duty sergeant with the U.S. Army who suffered hearing loss allegedly caused by military-issue earplugs made by 3M Company. The verdict was delivered in the seventh bellwether case to go to trial over hearing loss and other problems related to 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2), which former users say were defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous. The plaintiff in this latest case, Guillermo Camarillorazo, was awarded more than $800,000 in compensatory damages and $12.25 million in punitive damages, the largest verdict for a single plaintiff in the 3M litigation to date. If you or someone you love has suffered a life-altering side effect like hearing loss or tinnitus, do not hesitate to speak to a knowledgeable attorney about your legal options. You may be able to join the 3M earplug litigation and recover compensation for your losses.
3M’s CAEv2 earplugs were designed for military use and were standard issue for all branches of the military between 2003 and 2015, including the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force. They were sold to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency under a defense contract with Aearo Technologies, the original manufacturer, and Aearo was acquired by 3M in 2008. For more than a decade, soldiers used the Combat Arms Earplugs to protect their hearing during military training exercises and during deployments to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and other locations. The earplugs were used for more than a decade by thousands of soldiers, many of whom are now suffering from permanent hearing loss and other hearing problems.
3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs featured a reversible design that was meant to block all sound when inserted one way and reduce high-level noises while allowing users to hear spoken commands when inserted the other way. According to plaintiffs’ allegations, 3M’s earplugs were too short to properly seal the ear canal and could therefore loosen imperceptibly during use. Affected plaintiffs say this major defect exposed them to harmful noises during combat and training exercises that permanently damaged their hearing. They also claim that 3M/Aearo failed to properly warn them about the earplugs’ defects and manipulated test results to make it appear as though the earplugs met government standards. In addition to hearing loss, many affected servicemembers, veterans, and civilians have developed tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ears commonly caused by exposure to loud impact noises, such as gunfire, aircraft, or machinery.
Hearing loss, tinnitus, and other permanent hearing damage can cause debilitating problems for affected individuals and may require a lifetime of care, which is why active duty servicemembers, veterans, and others who have suffered injuries allegedly caused by 3M earplugs are pursuing lawsuits against the manufacturer. The bellwether trials involving 3M’s military earplugs began earlier this year, and so far, the results have been mixed, with a total of four wins for plaintiffs and three for 3M. Camarillorazo’s landmark recovery was awarded just days after a verdict delivered by another Florida jury in favor of 3M, in a case brought by Army veteran Joseph Palanki, who claimed that 3M’s military earplugs caused his tinnitus and hearing loss. Camarillorazo and Palanki’s claims join thousands of others filed in courts across the country, all involving similar allegations that 3M’s earplugs were defectively designed and failed to provide users with the expected hearing protection. With just four losses at trial, 3M has already been ordered to pay more than $30 million to plaintiffs.
There are currently more than 270,000 claims pending against 3M by military servicemembers, veterans, and civilians who blame the company’s dual-ended military earplugs for their hearing damage. Affected plaintiffs seek to hold 3M accountable for manufacturing and selling a defective product to the U.S. military and putting profits ahead of the safety of American troops. The majority of the lawsuits have been consolidated for coordinated pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, in what has become the largest multidistrict litigation (MDL) in history. If you or someone you know has suffered hearing damage allegedly caused by 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs, contact Consumer Safety Watch today. You may be entitled to damages for the harm you have suffered, and we can put you in touch with a reputable attorney who can help you determine whether you qualify for the 3M earplug litigation.