3M Co was found liable on Friday for hearing damage suffered by three U.S. military veterans who accused the company of covering up design defects in its earplugs, a blow to 3M which faces more than 200,000 similar claims.
The jury awarded each of the plaintiffs $2.1 million in punitive damages and a total of $830,500 in compensatory damages for their medical expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering.
The company was accused of hiding design flaws, fudging test results and failing to instruct the military in proper use of the earplugs, which were used by the Army between 2007 and 2013.
“The evidence is clear: 3M knew their earplugs were defective, yet they allowed our servicemembers to suffer these life-altering injuries,” said a statement from attorneys Bryan Aylstock and Christopher Seeger.
3M said in a statement it did not believe the plaintiffs met their burden in proving the plugs were defectively or negligently designed or that the plugs caused injuries. The company said it believed there were multiple grounds for appeal.
“We remain confident in our case and are ready to defend ourselves against plaintiffs’ allegations at the upcoming trials,” 3M said.