After a jury returned a verdict in favor of 3M in the sixth Combat Arms Earplug version 2 (CAEv2) trial, a different jury awarded a U.S. Army vet the largest award yet in the largest mass tort in U.S. history. 

Guillermo Camarillorazo, an active-duty soldier who joined the U.S. Army in 2001 and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was awarded more than $816,000 in compensatory damages and $12.2 in punitive damages by a Tallahassee, Fl jury on November 15. 

Camarillorazo’s case is just one of over 250,000 lawsuit claims made by U.S. military veterans and active-duty soldiers against Minnesota-based 3M and the CAEv2 hearing protection devices that the company acquired from Aearo Technologies in 2008. 

Plaintiffs allege that the dual-ended earplugs, which were supposed to protect soldiers’ hearing while allowing them to hear commands, were defective and caused them to develop hearing loss and/or tinnitus, a phantom ringing in one or both ears. 

3M has lost four of the first seven cases that have gone to trial. Juries in the four cases that have returned plaintiff verdicts have issued a collective $30 million in damages. 

In the first 3M trial, three U.S. Army vets were awarded $7.1 million. 3M won the second trial but was found to have been 62% liable for an army veteran’s hearing damage in the third trial, and faces a $1.1 million award payout to the plaintiff. Prior to a defense verdict in the fifth trial, 3M was found liable for an Army vet’s hearing loss. In the fourth trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $8.2 million. 

3M sold CAEv2 earplugs to the U.S. military from 2002 until 2015. A rival earplug maker filed a whistleblower lawsuit against 3M on behalf of the U.S. government in 2018. 3M resolved the lawsuit with a $9 million settlement to the U.S. Justice Department but denied liability or wrongdoing. 

Three more 3M earplug bellwether trials are scheduled before the end of the year. The sprawling multidistrict litigation is centered in Pensacola and presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Casey Rogers.