Latest 3M Earplug Bellwether Trials see $50 Million and $8 Million Verdicts in Favor of Veterans

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Two hefty verdicts were decided in favor of veterans as the most recent 3M Combat Arms Earplugs bellwether trials conclude. 

In both trials, federal juries awarded millions to two veterans suffering from hearing loss due to faulty 3M earplugs used during military service. 

Luke Vilsmeyer, a Pensacola, FL veteran, was awarded $50 million for hearing damage suffered during his service. He used the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs during his time as a Howitzer artillery gunner and a Green Beret. 

The $50 million settlement, decided by the Pensacola jury, is the second largest in the seven successful bellwether trials after a $110 million settlement awarded in January

An $8 million settlement was reached by a Tallahassee jury in favor of Steve Wilkerson, a veteran who suffered hearing loss. Wilkerson relied on the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs to keep his hearing safe while working as a Combat Engineer in Afghanistan. 

Recent bellwether trial outcomes and settlements are substantial. These verdicts prove in many capacities that 3M and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies acted negligently in the testing and distribution of faulty hearing protections for soldiers across military branches. 

Between 2003 and 2013, 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 were the exclusive hearing protection product used by all branches of the United States military. The 3M Arms Earplugs Version 2 was designed to protect against loud noises and hearing loss from gunfire, explosions, bombings, and vehicles.

Instead of blocking soundwaves, the earbuds were too short for proper insertion in the ear canal, causing them to loosen and not properly protect users from harmful sounds. Veterans claim defective earplugs cause serious injuries ranging from tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) to partial or total hearing loss.

Lawsuits have been filed by veterans across the country, and these cases have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Florida federal court. Bellwether trials began in May 2021.

FDA Provides Further Warnings after Second Infant Death, Abbott Expands Recall

On February 28th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted an updated warning on certain Abbott powdered baby formula products that have been found to contain Cronobacter and Salmonella. 

The updated warning and recall includes a powdered baby formula meant for infants that benefit from lowered mineral intake. 

The FDA warning advises parents and caretakers not to feed infants certain powdered baby formulas produced by Abbott. 

Bacterial infections from Abbott powdered baby formula products have led to the hospitalization of five infants and the death of two. These infections were caused by Cronobacter and Salmonella contamination in the Sturgis, Michigan Abbott plant. 

Abbott has voluntarily recalled the powdered formula products at the root of the FDA investigation and is facing class action complaints in Illinois and Florida

The expanded recall of products stems from the hospitalization and death of an infant who consumed Abbott Nutrition’s Similac PM 60/40 product with the lot code 27032K800. The infant was diagnosed with a Cronobacter infection. 

Products included in the original recall are certain lots of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare. The FDA warning advises against the consumption of products if:

  • the first two digits of the code are 22 through 37; and 
  • the code on the container contains K8, SH or Z2; and 
  • the expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.

Similac, Enfamil, and other cow milk-based baby formulas have been linked to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a gastrointestinal disease that primarily affects premature babies. The symptoms and effects of NEC can range from mild to fatal.

The marketing of these products and absence of warnings have triggered lawsuits to be filed in a number of states.

 

FDA Advises Against Using Certain Baby Formulas, Abbott Issues Voluntary Recalls

Dangerous bacteria found in powdered baby formulas has led to the hospitalization of four infants and the death of one. 

In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out a warning advising parents and caretakers not to feed infants powdered baby formulas produced by Abbott. 

The February 17th FDA warning states that Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport found in powdered baby formula produced at Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan facility caused infants to become sick. 

Following the warning, Abbott issued a voluntary recall on three powdered baby formulas: Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare. The voluntary recall includes only these formulas produced at its Sturgis, Michigan plant. 

The FDA has posted a webpage with detailed information to help identify whether a formula you purchased is included in the recall. 

These recalls and related hospitalizations follow reports and legal scrutiny over Abbott and other baby formula producers’, such as Mead Johnson, products. 

Similac, Enfamil, and other cow milk-based baby formulas have been linked to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a gastrointestinal disease that primarily affects premature babies. The symptoms and effects of NEC can range from mild to fatal.

The marketing of these products and absence of warnings have triggered lawsuits to be filed in a number of states. 

 

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