3M is embroiled in massive multidistrict litigation (MDL) to the tune of hundreds of thousands of cases. There are so many 3M Earplug lawsuits that the judge recently ordered the parties to conduct mediation to alleviate the caseload. But what does this mean for the plaintiffs? And what implications does this have for the amount of potential monetary damages?
The attorneys of Rueb Stoller Daniel represent veterans and military personnel injured by 3M’s defective earplugs. If you or a loved one have been injured, we want to hear from you.
Ordering the Parties to Mediate
On June 10, U.S. District Judge Casey Rogers, who is overseeing the 3M MDL, ordered the parties to mediate. With 16 so-called bellwether cases wrapped up, the judge believes all necessary evidence has been put forth. This means litigation has commenced to the point that the outcome of future cases can be reliably predicted. The judge’s order was reported on Law360.com.
The judge’s concern is that district courts will be overwhelmed by more lawsuits if no settlement is reached. There are still approximately 230,000 outstanding hearing damage claims, by some estimates. Hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs have sued over 3M’s allegedly defective Combat Arms Earplug version 2 (CAEv2).
What’s Next for the 3M Lawsuits?
The parties in the 3M Earplug lawsuits must begin to meet in mediation by July 15. Mediation is an out-of-court, alternative dispute resolution method allowing a neutral third party (mediator) to facilitate negotiations.
The mediator does not try cases and has no authority to force either side to accept any settlement offers. However, mediation offers a possible way for both sides to save time and money with a compromise they can live with.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, 3M could be on the hook for billions in damages. This is one of the first articles to accurately frame the scope of these ongoing cases. It may also place pressure on 3M to settle. Until now, the media has largely ignored this massive litigation, reported to be the largest consolidated mass tort in American history.
What Are the 3M Earplug Lawsuits About?
3M provided the U.S. military with specially designed CAEv2 earplugs. They were made to block out blasts and other deafening sounds while allowing soldiers to still hear conversations. However, the company soon became aware that many of its earplugs were defective. Yet it failed to properly alert the government.
This caused partial or complete hearing loss and tinnitus for many service members. The flaw had to do with the earplugs’ symmetrical design. This caused them to be loosely set in the ears, thereby allowing noise to enter.
Do I Have a Case?
If you wore these earplugs during service and became injured because of their defective design, you could have a case. A potential litigant would need to have been exposed to loud noises during service. A diagnosis of tinnitus or hearing loss by a medical professional is also required. Eligible veterans would have served between 2003 and 2015.
The amount of potential damages for each individual plaintiff will vary. An injured veteran could receive, on average, between $50,000 and $300,000. Of course, this is only an educated guess, not a definite dollar figure. And the mediation could affect these amounts as well.
Were you hurt because of 3M’s earplugs? Would you like to learn more about your legal options? Give the team at Rueb Stoller Daniel a call today. We have extensive experience in MDL and mass tort litigation and can answer your questions and concerns.