By Adam W. Pittman on May 12, 2022
A federal judge in Florida overseeing the record-breaking multi-district litigation against The 3M Company for faulty military earplugs shot down the company’s motion to force plaintiffs to pay filing fees immediately.
Behind 3M’s request was a motivation to slim down the growing, record-breaking litigation, which made headlines in January when two plaintiffs were awarded a total of $110 million for compensatory and punitive damages. In total, plaintiffs have won verdicts totaling nearly $200 million across eight bellwether trials.
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As of April, there were over 290,000 actions pending in the multidistrict litigation – the largest mass tort litigation in history – with plaintiffs alleging that The 3M Company sold defective earplugs to U.S. Military members to use in combat. Claims against the company’s Combat Arms Earplugs include a design defect that can result in permanent hearing damage due to failure to protect the user against loud sounds such as gunshots and explosions. The earplugs were manufactured by Aearo Technologies, who were bought by 3M in 2008.
Plaintiffs allege the company hid the design flaws, manipulated test results, and failed to provide proper instructions for earplug use to military veterans. In previous cases, the earplugs were also found to be too short for proper insertion, causing them to gradually loosen in users’ ears until they were effectively useless.
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U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers of Pensacola, Fla., criticized the motion, criticizing 3M for trying to “winnow frivolous cases” rather than continue to cooperate with the court to find a mutually beneficial solution. Rodgers also stated that, regardless of if approved or not, the motion would not have the effect 3M thinks it would, as 86% of the plaintiffs moving from the administrative docket to the active docket have already paid their filing fees.
The lead plaintiffs’ lawyers agreed with Rodgers, while 3M disagreed and were adamant there was good reason behind their motion.
June 2022 Update
A Florida federal jury awarded $77.5M to James Beal, a U.S. Military Veteran, who alleged the faulty 3M earplugs caused permanent hearing loss. Beal, who was diagnosed with bilateral tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, was awarded $72.5M in punitive damages and $5M in compensatory damages. This marked the 16th bellwether trial in multidistrict litigation in the case against The 3M Company.
In 16 bellwether trials, 3M have been forced to pay nearly $300 million in damages.
Thousands of military service members who suffered significant hearing loss and tinnitus – a condition which causes a constant ringing sound in the ear – chose Cory Watson to handle their defective earplug case against 3M. Our experienced defective product lawyers are fighting for clients’ rights for compensation and justice. Learn more about Cory Watson’s efforts to get justice for affected military service members here – “3M Earplug Hearing Loss Lawsuit Featured On CBS This Morning“.
How to Join the 3M Earplug Lawsuit
If you or a loved one served in the military any time between 2003 and 2015 and were diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus, you may qualify for financial compensation. This lawsuit is not against the government or armed services and does not affect disability benefits. Contact Cory Watson Attorneys today by calling (877) 562-0000 or fill out the FREE online consultation form on this page to learn more about your legal options. Don’t wait to reach out – Contact us today!