The U.S. District judge presiding over all federal 3M earplug cases has selected a small group of 3M claims to be prepared for early trial dates in 2021. These cases raise similar claims that 3M Company’s Combat Arms earplugs were defective and caused soldiers to develop severe hearing problems.
U.S. District Judge Case Rodgers, who currently coordinates all centralized 3M earplug claims in the Northern District of Florida, issued a pretrial order on February 25 stating that the initial bellwether choices have been selected. Judge Casey also outlined the dates that both plaintiffs and defends have to start pre-trail discovery before cases go before juries in 2021.
Both parties must now respond to written discovery by May 15 and complete core discovery by July 31. From that point, the Court will establish four trial groups and assign five cases to each group. These cases will be eligible to go before juries in 2021. By the end of the bellwether trial process, if 3M has not reached a settlement over the thousands of 3M earplug cases, each individual earplug claim may be remanded back to the courts they were originally filed in for future trial dates.
3M Earplug Lawsuits
Currently over 100,000 claims are filed against 3M over their dangerously defective earplugs, which were standard issue for the U.S. military from 2003-2015. Servicemembers across the U.S. allege that 3M failed to disclose a design flaw when they sold their earplugs to the U.S. military, contributing to the hearing injuries of potentially hundreds of thousands of military members. Veterans claim the faulty earplugs did not fit properly in the ear canal, failed to protect soldiers’ hearing, and contributed to hearing problems such as hearing loss and tinnitus.
In July 2018, 3M reached a settlement with the Department of Justice over the Combat Arms earplug problems totaling to $9.1 million. This settlement resolved claims that 3M defrauded the government by knowingly selling U.S. military faulty earplugs.