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July 10, 2020

3M Earplug Bellwether Trial Scheduled for April 2021 Over Military Hearing Loss

The judge presiding over all federal 3M military earplug lawsuits announced that the first “bellwether” case in the litigation will go to trial April 5, 2021. This case, like the thousands of others in the litigation, allege 3M’s military earplugs were defective and caused veterans to suffer hearing severe injuries.

Currently, over 150,000 earplug injury claims have been filed in the federal court system against 3M Company. Each of these lawsuits raise similar allegations that 3M’s Dual-sided Combat Arms earplugs contained dangerous design defects.

Plaintiffs claim 3M earplug defects left soldiers without proper hearing protection, causing injuries like tinnitus and hearing loss. 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs were standard issue in the U.S. military from 2003 to 2015, used by personnel in the states and in active combat zones like Iraq.

Given the increasing questions of fact and law brought forward in these lawsuits, the courts established a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in 2019 to address the earplug lawsuits. U.S. District Judge Case Rodgers presides over the 3M earplug multidistrict litigation, centralized in the Northern District of Florida.

To address the growing litigation, Judge Rodgers established a bellwether trial process, which prepares a small group of representative cases for early trial dates. These cases will be used to help gauge how juries may react to certain evidence and testimony repeatedly presented in the 3M earplug claims.

On June 29, Judge Rodgers released a pretrial order establishing the bellwether discovery and trial schedule. Judge Rodgers’ order included the date for the first trial, set to begin in nine months.

In March 2020, the Court selected a group of 25 earplug cases to be part of the first bellwether trial pool, now known as Group A. Judge Rodgers’ schedule calls for plaintiff depositions in Group A’s cases to be completed by July 31, 2020.

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