Military

Judge Rodgers orders acceleration of 3M earplug cases due to "unprecedented backlog"

September 2, 2021

“Due to the unprecedented backlog of cases piling up on the administrative docket, which tallies over 250,000 cases, the court deems it necessary to accelerate the bellwether trials and discovery for the remaining mass of cases,” Judge Rodgers commented. The multidistrict litigation is now the largest mass tort ever brought in federal court.

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers ordered an acceleration of bellwether trials and other cases last week in the sprawling 3M defective earplugs multidistrict litigation, citing an “unprecedented backlog” of cases. The orders, which were set in motion last Tuesday, will move tens of thousands of cases from the administrative docket to the active docket, with 1,358 transitioning in the first batch and between 10,000 and 20,000 cases at a time in subsequent batches (1).  

As you may recall from previous updates, the lawsuits against 3M were consolidated in Florida federal court in 2019 under Judge Rodgers, a United States Army veteran, and whom the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation describes as “an able jurist with experience in presiding over a large products liability MDL (2).” Since the transfer, Judge Rodgers has been actively working with the parties and the government to streamline the massive litigation.

“Due to the unprecedented backlog of cases piling up on the administrative docket, which tallies over 250,000 cases, the court deems it necessary to accelerate the bellwether trials and discovery for the remaining mass of cases,” Judge Rodgers commented. The multidistrict litigation is now the largest mass tort ever brought in federal court.

A group of “wave orders” will also require the parties involved to work up hundreds of cases simultaneously moving forward (3). The first three will include around 500 cases per wave and will consist of cases in which necessary information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense has already been received. Judge Rodgers plans to issue a new wave order every three months.

The orders come after the completion of the first round of bellwethers, in which 3M lost two of the three trials that took place this spring and summer. In the first trial, a Florida federal jury found 3M liable for the injuries of three service members and awarded them a total of $7.1 million. 3M was cleared of liability by a jury in the second trial but sustained its second loss after a jury issued a $1.7 million verdict in the third and final of the rapid-fire bellwether trials.

Trials for cases in Bellwether Group C will take place between October and December of 2021 and Group D cases will be tried in the early spring of 2022, according to the court.

Justice for servicemembers and veterans

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 (4).”

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 or family who may have been affected as well – we’re here to help. If you do not receive a recovery through a lawsuit or settlement, you don’t owe us anything.

 

References

  1. https://www.law360.com/articles/1416148/3m-earplug-cases-sped-up-due-to-unprecedented-backlog-
  2. https://www.law360.com/articles/1146138/3m-to-face-mdl-over-defective-military-earplugs-in-florida
  3. https://www.law360.com/articles/1416148/3m-earplug-cases-sped-up-due-to-unprecedented-backlog-
  4. https://www.law360.com/articles/1146138/3m-to-face-mdl-over-defective-military-earplugs-in-florida

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