Defective 3M Earplug Court Cases Move Forward

by | Dec 9, 2021 | Injuries

Florida U.S. District Judge Casey Rogers rebuffed the company’s efforts to delay the trials in the country’s largest multidistrict litigation site.

The 2020 coronavirus shutdowns significantly delayed the process, so the judge is eager for these cases to move forward. The current order covers a little over 1,300 cases in the first wave of claims. These cases were among the earliest ones filed. Judge Rogers said that subsequent scheduling orders would affect between 10,000 and 20,000 cases. There are about a quarter-million such cases pending in the Florida MDL.

So, far, victims are essentially 1-1-1 in the three trials which have happened so far. One jury awarded three veterans a combined $7.1 million. A second jury sided with 3M, and a third jury divided fault between the veterans and 3M.

“We believe the order will ensure the continued efficient management of this litigation and serve the interests of justice for the 250,000 service members who have suffered hearing damage due to 3M’s negligence,” the plaintiff’s attorneys said in a statement.

Product Defects

Sir Isaac Newton probably had no idea that the concept of inertia, which is embedded in his First Law of Motion, would pertain to defective product actions in the twenty-first century. This law states that bodies in motion tend to remain in motion. In terms of defective product cases, once the wheels start turning in a particular direction, it is difficult, or at least expensive, to stop and redirect them. Cost-conscious companies do not want to spend this money. As a result, defective products often appear in consumers’ medicine cabinets, closets, and garages. There are basically two types of product defects:

  • Design Defect: Once designers finalize a concept, product makers want to put it into production as soon as possible. So, defective designs, like parts of an earplug that do not fit together just right, go uncorrected. These companies have a chance to stop injuries before they happen, but they blow that chance.
  • Manufacturing Defect: Sometimes, problems spring up later in the manufacturing process. The defective Takata airbags are a good example. To save money, the company began using ammonium nitrate as a chemical propellant. This compound is very cheap but also highly unstable.

A Lexington personal injury attorney can obtain compensation if there is a connection between the product defect and the injury. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are usually available in defective product claims as well.

Note that victim/plaintiffs need not prove fault or negligence. These concepts are not relevant to the liability portion of a defective product claim. Product makes are strictly liable for any resulting injuries. However, fault, or specifically ignoring a known risk, could be relevant to the amount of damages.

Multidistrict Litigation

The 3M earplug MDL is the largest multidistrict litigation action in the United States. However, many others, such as the Roundup MDL, are almost as big. MDL is designed for claims which are much too large for courts to handle individually but do not fit the standards for a class-action lawsuit.

Essentially, MDL consolidates claims for pretrial purposes. Usually, the MDL is in a neutral location. The defective earplug lawsuits are not being handled in Minnesota, which is the home of 3M. The senior District Judge is in charge of the claims and rules on all pretrial motions. However, the judge usually appoints a special master to oversee discovery and other procedural matters. This master usually has specialized knowledge in the field.

If a claim does not settle, it either goes back to its home jurisdiction for trial or, if the parties agree, there is a bellwether trial in the MDL court. That trial must use laws from the applicable state, which in this case, is usually the state where the victim resides.

MDL actions have a number of benefits for a Lexington personal injury attorney. The special master approach is a good example. Since the master has special knowledge about the scientific and technical issues in play, the process goes much smoother.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers