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June 10, 2019

Studies Linking 3M Earplugs to Hearing Loss Now to be Presented on “Science Day” in August

The U.S. District Judge presiding over the 3M Combat Arms earplugs litigation moved originally June-scheduled “Science Day” presentations to August. During the “Science Day”, parties will educate the court on scientific concerns that may be commonly brought up as evidence during the impending trials. While these presentations are meant to be solely educational, not adversarial, this evidence could tie 3M earplugs to causing hearing complications in thousands of U.S. military members between 2003 to 2015.

As of June 5th, 2019, over 800 lawsuits pend in U.S. courts against corporate giant 3M for allegedly distributing faulty earplugs to the U.S. military. Each of these lawsuits raise similar allegations that the earplugs contributed to the hearing loss and tinnitus of American soldiers both in the U.S. and abroad. Many of the plaintiffs claim 3M knew the earplugs contained harmful defects when they supplied them to the military, but intentionally neglected to inform the military about the product flaws. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to consolidate and centralize the claims for pretrial proceedings in the Northern District of Florida. This action is meant to serve as a convenience to all parties involved and to prevent the presentation of redundant case information.

U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, who presides over the 3M MDL, issued an order June 4th, 2019 rescheduling the “Science Day” for Monday, August 26, 2019. Before the new “Science Day”, the parties have been ordered to discuss the parameters of the presentations, topics to be discussed, scope of each subject, etc. They must submit a joint agenda for the presentations by August 5th. Since this is a complex product liability litigation, scheduling scientific presentations like this early in the litigation process is common and helps the court establish a foundation in the issues of the case before going into trials. Those closely following the MDL’s development feel the presentations will likely focus on the correlation between hearing complications and the earplug design, a design notable for its identifiable, dual-ended feature.

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