Articles Posted in 3M Earplugs

When the news broke in August 2022 that 3M was trying to spin the earplug liabilities off into bankruptcy, it caused widespread confusion among many veterans who have been waiting years for their earplug case to get resolved. Now more than ever, veterans are asking “when is my 3M earplug case going to settle?”

Just last month, we seemed to be very close to getting a negotiated global settlement in the 3M earplug litigation. 3M was facing the prospect of having to go through discovery and trials in hundreds, possibly thousands of cases over the next 12 months. This made the possibility of 3M finally caving and working out a settlement a very likely scenario. Unfortunately, 3M and its defense team decided to dig in their heels and attempt to force the earplug claims to be resolved in bankruptcy court.

In this post, we will try to explain exactly what 3M is doing, how it could potentially play out, and what impact it will have on the settlement of the thousands of pending earplug lawsuits.

The bellwether test trials in the 3M earplugs litigation began about 15 months ago. These trials were held to evaluate the relative strength of the earplug lawsuits against 3M and give both sides an idea of what to expect if all of the cases went to trial.

Massive Beal Verdict Was Final MDL Punch

Last Friday, the 16th and final bellwether trial ended with a bang for the plaintiffs. A federal jury in Pensacola, Florida awarded $77.5 million to Army veteran James Beal. This was the largest amount awarded to an individual bellwether plaintiff so far.

Last week, the 15th bellwether trial concluded in the 3M earplug mass tort MDL. The case featured in this round was Jonathan Vaughn v. 3M Co., et al. (7:20-cv-134). After the standard 2-week trial (which has become a familiar format in the earplug bellwether cases), the jury found in favor of the plaintiff on all counts, rejected all of 3M’s affirmative defenses, and awarded $2.2 million in damages. The last trial in phase 1 of the bellwether cases will start next week.


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The third bellwether test trial in the massive 3M earplug lawsuits resulted in another solid victory for the plaintiffs.  Last week the jury in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Florida awarded Army veteran Llyod Baker $1.7 million in total damages in his lawsuit against 3M.

Like thousands of other plaintiffs in the Combat Arms earplugs litigation, Baker claimed that he suffered hearing damage (tinnitus) during his time in the Army because 3M’s earplugs were defective and failed to protect him. Baker sought to hold 3M liable under a number of different product liability theories, including:

  • Strict Liability (design defect)
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