3M Tries to Reduce Massive Earplug Disputes with Filing Fees

The 3M logo is seen at the 3M Tilloy factory in Tilloy-Lez-Cambrai, France, August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

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  • 3M Blames Ease of Filing and Lack of Control for MDL’s Record Growth
  • Plaintiffs won nearly $200 million in eight landmark lawsuits
  • 3M won five trials

(Reuters) – 3M Co has asked a federal judge to demand that tens of thousands of plaintiffs who claimed the company’s military earplugs damaged their hearing in a massive multidistrict lawsuit back their claims records with processing fees.

In a motion Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., federal court for Minnesota-based 3M said allowing plaintiffs to file “unverified” claims in an administrative case by submitting short forms without the cost of Typical filing of $402 per case had blown up the MDL. in the greatest in history.

The filing comes after plaintiffs won verdicts totaling around $200 million in eight landmark lawsuits, while juries sided with 3M in five trials.

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“These desperate motions by 3M cannot hide the fact that eight juries have awarded over $200 million in damages to the U.S. service members, and that their defenses … are unconvincing and without merit,” the attorneys said. plaintiffs Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis. & Overholtz said in a statement.

As of March 16, more than 288,000 actions were pending in the MDL before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, more than double the number of actions currently pending in all other MDLs combined, according to panel data. judiciary on multidistrict disputes.

3M said in its motion that the unprecedented number of cases stemmed from Casey’s decision to allow plaintiffs to file claims on an administrative record “without any material obligation,” such as fees, discovery disclosures or allegations about where and when the Complainant used the earplugs.

“Encouraged by massive advertising spending by plaintiffs’ attorneys, who could now sue at no cost, tens of thousands of plaintiffs filed administrative docket complaints,” the company said.

Rodgers began a process of dismantling the administrative docket, ordering plaintiffs’ attorneys to move certain cases from it to the normal court docket and pay costs. However, 3M said fewer than 15,000 plaintiffs had paid fees by the end of 2021, and there is still no deadline for most cases to come out of the administrative docket.

“There is no reason to further delay the payment of the application fee, which should have been demanded from the start,” he said.

3M argued that the military was responsible for the design of the earplugs and that the plaintiffs’ claims under state law were nullified due to 3M’s role as a federal contractor under the government mandates.

The MDL is In re 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, US District Court, Northern District of Florida, No. 19-md-2885.

For applicants: Bryan Aylstock, Daniel Thornburgh and Jennifer Hoekstra of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz; Shelley Hutson of Clark, Love & Hutson; Chris Seeger and Caleb Seeley of Seeger Weiss; and Joseph Messa of Messa & Associates

For 3M: Kimberly Branscome of Dechert and others

(Note: This article has been corrected to clarify that 3M said fewer than 15,000 complainants had paid filing fees by the end of 2021.)

Read more:

3M owes two veterans $58 million in latest combat earplug trials

3M on appeal says first trial in massive earplug litigation ‘derailed’

3M Reaches $110 Million Verdict in Latest US Military Earplug Trial

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Brendan Pierson

Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and all areas of healthcare law. He can be reached at [email protected]

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