LETTER TO THE EDITOR
OAG asked for legal assistance for CNMI service members, veterans
Re: Legal assistance to eligible CNMI service members or veterans, individually or as a class, seeking financial compensation for hearing loss and tinnitus caused by defective “dual-sided black and yellow combat arms earplugs,” a 3M product, provided by the U.S. military from 2003 to 2015.
As the chairman of the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs, I, along with committee members Reps. Richard Lizama, Celina Babauta, Christina Sablan, Leila Staffler, Edwin Propst and Roy Ada, request any legal assistance the Office of the Attorney General can provide to any and all eligible service members or veterans who are legal residents of the CNMI, in line with various national lawsuits against 3M.
This wave of lawsuits against 3M started in April 2022 with seven rounds of “Bellwether Trials” involving nine plaintiffs. Three of these plaintiffs lost. The other six plaintiffs won and were awarded damages totaling $29.4 million, an average of $4.9 million each.
On May 20, 2022, a $77.5-million judgement was awarded in Beal v. 3M after a two-week jury trial in Pensacola, Florida. Also, on May 31, 2022, a $55-million judgment previously awarded in Wayman vs. 3M was reduced to $21.7 million due to limits on punitive damages under Colorado law.
As of June 2022, a case management order provided for hundreds of additional lawsuits to go forward, on top of other cases currently set for jury trial and those cases pending appeal by 3M.
Filing claims against 3M will not affect any service-related disability benefits that our veterans currently receive or are eligible for. As of this request, there are nearly 300,000 service members and veterans suing 3M. To my knowledge, none are CNMI residents.
As a veteran myself and chairperson of the Federal and Foreign Affairs Committee of the 22nd CNMI House of Representatives, I pray along with my colleagues for your office’s diligent attention to this request as well as your response. My office can be contacted at 670-664-8903 or 670-287-5351.
Rep. Vicente C. Camacho
Chairman, Federal and Foreign Affairs Committee