According to a court order released August 26, the 3M earplug multidistrict litigation (MDL) has made significant developments, including entering into a tolling agreement for certain 3M earplug lawsuits. A tolling agreement is an agreement between both parties that they have waived the right to claim that a lawsuit should be dismissed because the statute of limitations have expired for it.
Currently there are over 2,000 3M earplug lawsuits filed nationwide, brought forth by former military members. Each of the product liability lawsuits claim similar allegations, that 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs were defective and did not provide adequate ear protection. These earplugs were distributed to US military members between 2003 and 2015, and some suggest that nearly 100,000 servicemembers could be filing 3M earplug lawsuits in the upcoming months and years.
U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, who presides over all 3M earplug lawsuits centralized in the Northern District of Florida, announced the tolling agreement in a case management order released after a conference earlier this week. The tolling agreement will also give the Court and manufactur with more information and a more definitive count of the number of pending 3M earplug claims filed and unfiled nationwide.
In addition to the tolling agreement, the case management order stated the document discovery progress was going well, and the manufacturer is on schedule to complete the majority of document production by September 30. The order also announced the schedule for future case management conferences:
- September 27
- October 25
- November 22
- December 16
Experts anticipate Judge Rodgers will create a “bellwether” process to handle the claims currently pending in the 3M earplug litigation. However, if parties fail to reach a 3M earplug settlement to resolve the litigation, each claim could be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts they were originally filed in for future, individual trial dates.