A jury found 3M liable for hearing damage suffered by military members who alleged that the company did not disclose design flaws in its dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), according to Reuters.
Reuters reports that a jury awarded each plaintiff $2.1 million in punitive damages and $830,500 in compensatory damages.
The Maplewood, Minn-based company reached a $9.1 million settlement with the US Army in 2018 after it was alleged that the company violated the False Claims Act in selling earplugs that were known to be too short for insertion, thereby leaking noise. 3M did not admit liability.
In a statement, 3M said it believed there were multiple grounds for appeal and that it didn’t believe the plaintiffs “met their burden in proving the plugs were defectively or negligently designed or that the plugs caused injuries,” according to Reuters.
The trial—known as a “bellwether” because it acts as a test for a larger pool of lawsuits and can help predict how future settlements may be negotiated—is the first to take place; a second bellwether is scheduled for May 17. About 240,000 service members have alleged hearing damage from the earplugs, and 3,349 have filed lawsuits, Reuters reports.
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