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See-Saw Battle In Largest Ever U.S. Tort Case

Stylized ear receiving a sound wave.

December 28, 2021

Days after a federal jury in Florida found 3M liable for $22.5 million in a “bellwether” case alleging problems with ear plugs formerly manufactured by 3M and sold to the military to protect hearing, the company prevailed before a jury in another Florida case regarding the same product. These trials are part of what is said to be the largest mass tort case ever brought in U.S. federal court, with more than 200,000 military veterans or current service members as potential plaintiffs, and in order to facilitate possible settlement a number of bellwether cases have been selected for trial. At issue is whether designers of the product – a company that 3M acquired – provided complete tests results and/or whether 3M made clear its appropriate use and limitations. Hearing loss is the leading service-related disability, with more than a million veterans now receiving compensation.

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