Sunday, June 05, 2022

Florida jury awards $77.5 million to veteran in 3M earplug case. (Reuters.WaPo)

For decades, American veterans were barred from seeking damages in tort cases against government contractors under a hoary legal defense called the Feres doctrine. That docttrine is a judicially created doctrine, partially repeated and rejected since 2020 in legislation enacted by Congress and then President Trump, and affirmed by decisions from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.  More later. 

As Justice Rehnquist said, our Seventh Amendment right to civil jury trial is "a bulwark against oppression."

To companies like Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing a/k/a 3M, and the earplug maker it purchased,  allegedly making shoddy products and exposing veterans to unsafe hazards -- enough, by God!

Arthur Miller's play, All My Sons, dramatized a dysfunctional family where the father's corporation and its defective aircraft engines killed one of his own sons, a pilot.  The play was based upon Wright Aeronautical Corporation conspiring with Army inspectors to approve defective airplanes engines -- a news story called to the playwright's attention by his mother-in-law at the time. Read the Tony award winning play here, and reflect. 

Let justice be done.  

From The Washington Post:

Florida jury awards $77.5 million to veteran in 3M earplug case

Veteran wins earplug lawsuit against 3M 

A jury in Pensacola, Fla., federal court on Friday ordered 3M to pay $77.5 million to a U.S. Army veteran who said he suffered hearing damage as a result of using the company’s military-issue earplugs.

The verdict for veteran James Beal is the largest yet for an individual in a sprawling litigation over the earplugs that as of May 16 included more than 290,000 claims in the Pensacola court, by far the largest mass tort litigation in U.S. history.

Beal’s trial was the last of an initial set of 16 trials held to test the strength of plaintiffs’ claims and facilitate settlement talks. Of those bellwether trials, plaintiffs prevailed in 10, winning a total of nearly $300 million. Juries sided with 3M in the remaining six.

“It is clear 3M’s defenses — whether in the courts, to investors, or the public — are unconvincing and without merit,” lawyers for the plaintiffs said in a joint statement.

“We are disappointed and will appeal today’s verdict,” the company said in a statement. “As in previous bellwether trials, we were prevented from presenting crucial evidence to the jury, and we will address that issue, among others, in our appeal.”

Beal, who served in the Army from 2005 to 2009 and in the Army Reserves until 2011, said he wore 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 while using a variety of weapons and as a result suffers from hearing loss and tinnitus.

Aearo Technologies, which 3M bought in 2008, developed the earplugs, which were issued to military service members between 2003 and 2015. Plaintiffs allege the company hid design flaws, fudged test results and failed to provide instructions for the proper use of the earplugs.

— Reuters

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