Product Liability

3M Defective Military Earplug Suits Sent to Florida Federal Court

August 29, 2019

Eight suits from Minnesota, California, Oklahoma, and Texas have recently been centralized in Florida Federal Court by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, along with an additional 635 related actions.

It’s been a year now since 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to the United States government to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the military, causing service members to develop hearing loss and tinnitus. Though these settlement proceeds will not be distributed to military personnel, hundreds of soldiers are now pursuing their own claims against 3M for damages. Eight suits from Minnesota, California, Oklahoma, and Texas have recently been centralized in Florida Federal Court by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, along with an additional 635 related actions.

American Flag on flagpole in front of government building

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers will be overseeing the combined cases. The judicial panel notes, “Centralization in the Northern District of Florida allows the panel to assign this nationwide litigation to a forum with the necessary judicial resources and expertise to manage this litigation efficiently and in a manner convenient for the parties and witnesses.” [i]

Multidistrict litigation vs. class actions

There has been some confusion concerning this litigation, with many mistakenly thinking this is a class action. As noted above, these lawsuits against 3M have been consolidated into Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). MDL is similar to a class action in that it provides for a more efficient handling of similar claims filed by a large number of people. Whereas a class action is a single case with several plaintiffs, an MDL is comprised of multiple individual cases that are grouped together and moved to a single court. This allows for one judge who is familiar with the details affecting all of the cases (in this case U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers) to oversee the proceedings and move things along at a quicker pace.

Justice and accountability for our soldiers

Considering the 3M earplugs were standard issue to millions of members of the armed forces between 2003 and 2015, it is expected that the number of actions against 3M will continue to grow. Main Street Law Firm is committed to holding 3M accountable for their actions that put the health and welfare of countless service members at risk. Chad Readler, acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, sums it up well, “Government contractors who seek to profit at the expense of our military will face appropriate consequences.” [ii]

It’s not too late

If you or a loved one were a U.S. military service member, veteran or contractor between 2003 and 2015 who was diagnosed with partial or total hearing loss or suffer from tinnitus, you may have a claim against 3M for substantial compensation without ever going to court. Complete the intake form here for a free, no-obligation review of your case. Feel free to share this with any friends of family who may have been affected as well – we’re here to help.

Sources:

i. https://www.law360.com/articles/1146138/3m-to-face-mdl-over-defective-military-earplugs-in-florida

ii. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/3m-company-agrees-pay-91-million-resolve-allegations-it-supplied-united-states-defective-dual

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