First Bellwether Trial in 3M Earplug MDL Set to Begin
The first bellwether trial in the 3M Combat Arms Earplug Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) is set to begin on April 5, 2021. The purpose of a bellwether trial is to test a case that is representative of the cases included in the MDL. The process can help move other cases along and help parties decide if they want to enter a settlement agreement or continue with the litigation.
The fact that we are close to the first bellwether trial in the case is significant. After the initial trial, other cases may proceed quickly. The company may also be more willing to settle cases if the judgments favor the plaintiffs.
Group A Proceeds with First Bellwether Trial
Over 200,000 cases have been filed since 2018 alleging injuries caused by the 3M Combat Arms Earplug. The cases were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation or MDL on April 3, 2019. It is the largest MDL in the nation’s history.
Judge Rodgers, the district court judge presiding over the MDL in the Northern District of Florida, encouraged parties to participate in negotiation settlements. Some plaintiff’s reached settlements with the defendants. However, there are still many cases headed for trial.
Therefore, Judge Rodgers is proceeding with the first bellwether trial pool with Group A cases in hopes of moving the litigation forward. She has also issued an order for bellwether trial groups B, C, and D to submit their tentative trial schedules.
As more bellwether trials take place, attorneys will better understand how cases may be decided in court and how the litigation may grow.
What Are the 3M Cases About?
The MDL involves cases alleging that defective combat earplugs caused injuries and damages for service members and veterans. The 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs were issued to service members from 2003 through 2015.
The men and women were stationed in Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, and the Indian Ocean. Some service members may have received the earplugs during their training.
Aearo Technologies developed and manufactured the earplugs. 3M Company purchased Aearo Technologies in 2008.
The combat earplugs were explicitly designed for use in combat zones. They have two ends to protect the wearer from loud noises such as explosions and gunfire but allow them to hear speech and commands. However, allegations of defects led to lawsuits against 3M.
How Were the Earplugs Defective?
A defect in the design allowed loud noises to enter the ear around the earplug. The exposure to the loud noises caused injuries, including hearing loss and tinnitus.
Combat-related hearing loss is a common service-related injury. The earplugs were to prevent this injury from occurring, but they failed.
Common symptoms associated with tinnitus include, but are not limited to:
- Buzzing or ringing in the ears
- Hypersensitivity to some sounds
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Trouble understanding what people are saying
- Muffled speech and sounds
- Full sensation in the ears after being in a noisy place
- Hearing loss
A person could suffer from other symptoms. For some individuals, the symptoms can be debilitating. Hearing impairments can result in job loss and disability.
The service members who sued these earplugs trusted that they would be protected from injuries and hearing loss. 3M and the other parties responsible for these injuries should be held accountable for the damages caused by their negligence and wrongful acts.
To date, 3M Company has not recalled the defective earplugs. There could be service members still using the earplugs in combat zones or during training. The company merely stopped producing the earplugs when allegations arose that the earplugs were defective.
Damages That May Be Awarded in the 3M Combat Earplug Cases?
The types of damages recovered in a product liability case depend on the facts of the case.
An injured party may receive compensation for damages including:
- The cost of diagnosing and treating the injury or medical condition
- Disabilities and permanent impairments caused by the defective earplugs
- Emotional, mental, and physical pain and suffering
- Decreases in the person’s quality of life or enjoyment of life
- Loss of wages, income, and benefits
- Decreases in future earning potential and future loss of income because of a permanent disability
- Cost of medical equipment to aid in hearing loss
It is important for veterans and service members suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus to seek medical care. They should also seek legal advice from an attorney as soon as possible.
There are deadlines for filing claims related to injuries caused by the 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs. If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline, you give up your right to sue 3M for the injuries and damages caused by the defective earplugs.