The U.S. District Judge has agreed to consolidate three different claims of 3M Combat Arms earplug lawsuits into one trial, which will begin in January 2022 before a federal jury.
The current consolidated trial, set to begin in January 2022, is similar to the first bellwether trial of combat arms earplugs held in April 2021, where three military veterans were awarded $7.1 million. The company provided defective earplugs to the service members, which resulted in the court's ruling against it. The second trial was ruled in favor of 3M in May 2021, and the third trial resulted in a $1.7 million verdict against the manufacturer.
Each of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claims 3M was aware of the defective design of the earplugs but still sold it to the U.S. government without fair guidelines about the usage of the products. The earplugs could not seal the ear canal effectively and fall out from the service members' ears.
These bellwether trials will prevent repetitive findings and discussions in the large number of 3M lawsuits that are about to go before the federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers has already scheduled two bellwether trials that will go before separate juries in September and October 2021 before the current trial, including the three veterans.
Currently, 3M faces more than 230,000 product liability lawsuits with similar allegations that the earplugs were defective and resulted in hearing loss, tinnitus, and other ear problems to the U.S. service members. All the 3M lawsuits are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers as a part of an MDL in the Northern District of Florida.
Earlier, the U.S. District Judge presiding over 3M Combat Arms earplugs litigation has penalized two attorneys representing the manufacturer for disregarding jury orders on presenting evidence at the trial.
Last week, a jury awarded $1.7 million in damages to the U.S. Army veteran who suffered hearing damage due to the defective earplugs. According to the jury's final judgment, 3M is responsible for $1.05 million damages from the total settlement amount.
The verdict is the second major loss for 3M. Earlier in April, three veterans were awarded $7.1 million in damages against 3M. Although the manufacturer was able to defend the verdict in the second trial that commenced in May, the company is required to yet prove the safety of its product in future trials.
Judge Rodgers issued a sanction order considering the most recent 3M trial as the attorneys violated court orders during the closing arguments. The order briefed that two of the attorneys should pay $10,000 and $2000 as a penalty.
Judge Rodgers stated that one of the penalized attorneys presented the statistics as facts during closing arguments which is not acceptable during court ruling. She even asked the attorney to rectify the situation, but the attorney ignored it completely.
Later in a conference, Judge Rodgers said that it was the first time in 19 years that she had to punish the attorneys for disregarding her orders.
U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers is overlooking all the 3M lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida where the litigation is centralized for coordinated discoveries and non-repetitive response of juries to certain evidence.
Currently, there are more than 230,000 product liability lawsuits against the manufacturer claiming that 3M Combat Arms earplugs are defective, and resulted in tinnitus, hearing loss and other ear problems to the U.S. service members.