A military veteran who was awarded $50 million in damages by a jury in a Combat Arms Earplug version 2 (CAEv2) bellwether trial against 3M called 3M’s appeal of the verdict “scattershot” and urged the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on April 28 not to overturn the decision, Law360 reported

Former Army Green Beret Luke Vilsmeyer’s trial, held in March 2022, was the 13th bellwether trial in the massive CAEv2 multi-district litigation (MDL). Vilsmeyer told a panel of the Circuit Court that 3M is “grasping at straws” by accusing him of failing to provide proof that his hearing damage was directly caused by the earplugs and that the U.S. military, not 3M, is the party responsible for his injuries for failing to fit him properly and train him how to use them. 

"3M contends Vilsmeyer failed to prove the CAEv2 caused his auditory injuries, but this argument confuses the issues and ignores expert testimony establishing causation," per Law360. "3M's superseding-cause defense fares no better because the military's alleged failure to fit and train Vilsmeyer with the CAEv2 was foreseeable as a matter of law."

Vilsmeyer contended that prior to his trial, 3M dropped the assertion that the military shoulders part of the blame for his hearing loss. 

CAEv2 litigation is the largest class action multidistrict litigation in U.S. history, at one time numbering over 300,000 claimants. As of mid-April, the number of pending cases exceeded 262,000, mostly brought forth by military veterans who served at any time during the years 2003-2015, wore CAEv2 during their time of service, were exposed to loud sounds during their military tenure, and have been diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus. 

In October, a U.S. District Judge rejected 3M’s motion for a new trial in the Vilsmeyer case, disagreeing with the company that the veteran’s injuries were mild and treatable. 

In July 2022, 3M’s subsidiary company, Aearo Technologies, the original manufacturer of CAEv2, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move that was seen by critics as an unethical attempt by 3M to end the litigation. A bankruptcy judge refused to stay the earplug litigation in the bankruptcy to cover 3M. The same bankruptcy judge heard oral arguments in April over Aearo’s bankruptcy and is expected to issue a ruling soon.